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March 17, 2014: Signy’s Passing

Signy, our beloved Irish Icelandic horse, passed away last night at 3 a.m. I heard about it this morning. I was still in Fairbanks, in the Alaska Railroad train terminal. I’d just said goodbye to Fran and Sarah. I called him on my hand held device, of course fully expecting to hear that everything was okay. I was a bit worried, but as I told Fran and Sarah, it sounded to me like she was suffering from a mild bout of colic. Plus, I knew that Pete was taking good care of her.

I called Pete, left a message at 7:55 a.m. I was just about to turn off the device when he called back. I knew from the tone of his voice that the news was

bad. He told me that Signy was dead. I repeatedly said that no, this could not be true. I then, with device in hand ran out of the depot to find my friends but they had just driven off.

I said goodbye to Pete, and then stood in the depot shaking and crying. The odd thing was, no one paid me any attention at all, which was perhaps a good thing. I went outside, got in line and got on the train. I had been looking forward to riding on the train for some time – now I was dreading it, for I knew that I’d do nothing but think about this loss.

During the four hour trip, I experienced Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s five stages of death. Maybe not applicable to those who are not dying themselves, or have just parted company with a loved one, but I did experience them. I did not go from one to the other, but rather, moved back-and-forth, from one to the other.

You can’t write about something in anything but a linear fashion, so I can only describe what I felt, in a more piecemeal fashion.

There was denial. I thought that this just could not be. Signy had to be one of the most healthy Icelandic horses in the state of Alaska. Pete and I both rode her most days this winter, and she was always eager to go. In fact, a few times I had a hard time holding this very polite horse back. And two days before, Pete took her for a ride in which she was her usual feisty self. And what were the odds of this happening? Less than six months ago Pete lost his beloved Siggi. So the chances of his parting company with a second buddy were miniscule. And Signy wasn’t even twenty. A few weeks before Pete remarked that she was now in her prime.

And there was anger. I was pissed. This death wasn’t right, fair, just, or called for. We did everything right by this horse, and then some. She was fed, exercised, and brushed nearly every single day. Anger sometimes doesn’t have boundaries. I wanted to strangle the big, fat guy next to me who was going on about his goddamn fucking bucket list and all the motorcycle trips he was still intending to do. I also gave a fellow who was assigned the seat next to me a look that indicated that he should look elsewhere for seating. And he did.

And there was bargaining. So, I thought maybe there was a way of getting her back. (At this point in time I did not know what had become of her). I said a prayer to a God that I knew did not exist, and asked that this just be a bad dream. I had had them before, so maybe this one just seemed more real than most. Nope, this turned out not to be the case.

And there was depression. This was where I met my Waterloo. I felt depression set in about an hour before we reached Talkeetna. And this was the emotion that stayed with me after. And this is the emotion that will stay with me for some time. My heart was, is, and will remain heavy.

Acceptance is supposed to follow depression. I don’t know if this will ever come to be. Heck, I still haven’t accepted the fact that Mr. Siggi is gone. This is just a double whammy.

On the drive home, I said to Pete that I concluded that really, a loved animal dies, and that’s it. There is no more animal. We fictionalize, and create a reality, for example me saying that now Mr. Siggi is one with the universe. Pete then told me that shortly after Signy’s death, he saw a shooting star – a very bright star that went whoosh across the sky.

Hearing this, I realized that I was wrong about there being nothing after death. What I then realized was that Signy’s spirit was so large, so vast that she was able, in her own way to take it upon herself to let Pete know that she was elsewhere. It was her way of saying thank you for being such a good owner, and goodbye. This realization then has put me on the pathway to acceptance.

Next: 77. 3/18/14: Signy’s St Patrick’s Day Birthday