Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as; intense sorry, especially caused by someone’s death.
I dispute that definition with every bone in my body and every ounce of strength and opinion I have. In my eyes the definition should be the one above. Whatever or whoever you love you may then also grieve.
On Monday 2nd February 2015 I lost my best friend, my business partner, my rock, my mooring ties, my safe haven. He was understanding and loving. He had an intense sense of right and wrong. He taught me many of the values and standards that I hold today. His name is Freckles. A 30 year old pony who has been a part of my life since I was 11 years old. I am now 24.
It is at this point that I feel that some of you may scorn, ‘it’s only a pony’. Others will sympathise and some of you will empathise. For those of you who don’t understand I will try and explain.
I was lucky enough to get Freckles when I was 11 and he was 17. We rode out together, we competed, we hunted, we played, we spent hours in each others company. By the time he was 21 he had developed arthritis in both of his front knees. We could no longer ride together so instead we walked together. He would come out with me everytime I walked the dogs, we would go around the fields and down the lanes. A young girl, two dogs and a pony. He knew all my secrets, I told him all of my stories, all of my misdemeanours. Whenever I was sad or there was something I didn’t yet have the strength to face I would go out to see him, seeking comfort and love in the strength of his body and the knowledge in his eyes. Both of which he always gave me willingly.
He taught me that the more I gave, the more I would get back, the harder I worked, then the harder he would work, the more I loved, the happier I would be. More than all of this though, he taught me so many important lessons. Mainly that:
- It's not over until you jump the last fence, regardless of which course you may be jumping.
- He will love me unconditionally for every day of my life.
When I was deciding on a name for Freckles Childcare, for the company I have invested so much time, love and energy into, for the vision I see before me, for the individuals and families that I want to help, I couldn’t reach a name that I connected with. It wasn’t until I was on a walk with a friend and I said 'I just need someone to give me a name and that will be that‘ so she said ' okay, Green Leaf' to which my response was, 'that's crap!' So we tried another tack she asked me what made me happiest in the world. I didn’t even have to think of a reply, it was the answer it has always been and will always be. It was ‘Freckles’.
It is now, now that he is gone, that I am eternally grateful to her for that conversation. Whilst he is gone his legacy lives on, he walks next to me everyday, he is still my safe haven, his values and standards are invested within the company. I only hope that I can do him proud, that the company is successful enough to be worthy of sharing his name.
Grief affects all of us in different ways, parents to children, boys to girls, brothers to sisters. For me all I want right now is to feel respect for my grief, to know that I am loved and know that if I want to say something someone will listen to me. If you know someone is grieving, drop them a message, ask them how they are, if they need anything. To you it may seem like nothing to them it may mean the world.
The relationship Freckles and I had no one can ever replace. I saw him this weekend just gone, he was old and in pain but he was happy. He looked up when I came over calling his name, he munched away when I gave him carrots, he listened to my stories, he comforted me when I cried. He died less than 24 hours after I left. He had waited to see me one last time, to let me hug him, to tell him I loved him, to let me know how much he loved me. He knew at that point he could go happy. I think my story proves that grief is not just for the passing of people it is for the passing of anyone or any animal that you love. Grief cannot and should not be categorised or contained. It is individual.
There is only one way I can end this. In the soulful voice of Tina Turner - Freckles you’re simply the best. I love you.