1943 words of book. HorseBack work; interesting new people met. Amazing level of equine sweetness in the paddock.
And: one of the most difficult telephone calls I’ve had to make since I can remember.
The catastrophically stupid thing which I spoke of a while ago, which is too stupid to elaborate, is not just something which I have to fix up myself. It has ramifications. It means that I have had to let someone down. And that someone is one of the people I love most in the world.
It took a week for me to summon the courage to make the call. Not only would I have to admit the shaming thing, but I would have to do the letting down. I played it and played it in my head, and it never came out any better.
Eventually, I made it. I had to do it on the move. Weirdly, I remember this from after my father died. I wanted to speak to the best beloveds, but I could not do it sitting at my desk. The extreme emotions and the truths which must be told required locomotion. I walked round and round the compound, talking and crying into my mobile telephone, whilst the Duchess and the Pigeon trotted faithfully and quizzically behind me. This morning was like that. I just set off walking, and once I was speaking I was concentrating so hard on the difficult things I was saying that I did not think where I was going. My steps, on automatic pilot, took me straight down to the field. There, my other duchess stood, my equine version, as if waiting for me.
Still talking, explaining, apologising, recriminating against my own folly, I stood, instinctively, next to my horse, one hand gentling the side of her cheek as she rested against me. Some of the time, I was so seized in the conversation that I hardly knew she was there. Then, in the pauses, I was acutely aware of her, of her stillness, her kindness, the steadiness of her; she is always there, in the rain and the shine, literal and metaphorical. She does not care that I have done something stupid; she stays by my side because I am her person. I think, abruptly, that probably the only creature in the world with whom I am not stupid is this horse. For some reason that I cannot identify, she brings out my best self, and that is one of her many, many gifts, which she gives so generously, every day.
The beloved human to whom I was speaking made the awful conversation as easy as it could have been, for all my dread. She did not judge or question. She offered understanding, generosity, sympathy, help. Her good heart was open as wide as the human heart can go. I felt humbled and lucky and passionately grateful. Interestingly, she is also one of those ones who bring out my best self. When I am with her, I am just a little bit funnier and cleverer and brighter. I do not have to explain myself or fake anything or worry about flaws.
Sitting now, writing this, I still have crushing angst, because the stupid thing was all my own fault and I should know better. I should not have had to make that call, nor rely on the generosity of the beloved human. At the same time, I am reminded of my astonishing luck to have such a person. I suppose that it is easy to have friends in the good times; it’s when you are up against it that the great ones rise to their full magnificence and show what they are made of.
I shall remember that conversation, the black box of the telephone pressed hard against my ear, my voice rising strained and fraught into the Scottish air, the good steady mare breathing by my side, the good human heart offering only love and understanding on the other end of the receiver.
The silver lining is very, very thin at the moment, almost invisible to the naked eye. But it is there. Every damn cloud has one.
No time for pictures. I have hit the wall. But this is the face which greets me each morning; this is the look which she wore today, even though it was cold and dreich and she had rain in her mane, and she has a little bit of a sore shoulder after a slip yesterday. You have to imagine it accompanied by a sweet, low whinny, which is her customary morning hello: