As I work on my NaNo project and pore through my old journals I’ve been reflecting upon friends I met along the way. Sadly, there’s only one. Oh, sure, I had acquaintances that I saw every week at knitting, but I never saw them outside of the yarn shop. There was only one person I could confide in during the earlier years I was with the narc because he would not allow friendships with anyone he didn’t know first and who was loyal to him. It took me a long time to figure that out.
Robin was our neighbor when we lived on the little farm. She and her boyfriend of many years, Dave, were the first people we met when looking at houses and they were a big reason we chose the house we did. The other neighbors were assholes, but that’s another story.
Robin had two horses and we became fast Horse Friends, seeing each other at her barn but not otherwise. Horse Friends share everything horse-related, but may be total strangers away from the barn. I met her kids only a couple of times, but she talked about them enough that I felt like I knew them.
Robin’s old paint horse, Bear, had cancer when I moved in and he went downhill fairly quickly. She held on to him as long as she could before making that final call to have him put out of his misery. It broke her heart – he had been with her through a failed marriage and several temporary relationships and she loved him more than anything but maybe her Jack Russel dog, Jake.
I moved my horse into her barn and pasture and we rode often. The narc was pressuring me to get rid of my horse. Junior was too much horse for me and I was being pulled in too many directions to give him the time and miles he needed. The narc was a total asshole about how I spent my time and not a day went by that he didn’t have something to say about the “horse situation.” I was spending too much time with the horse or not enough time with the horse and I couldn’t take it any more. One day I just snapped, put an ad in the paper and the Junior was gone two days later. I was out of the horse business.
The narc was not pleased. “I didn’t mean for you to sell your horse!” he declared. “I meant that you should get another horse and I would ride Junior.” Say what? I choked back my rage and said nothing. He was gaslighting me about the “horse situation” and I was not going to go there.
Anyway. Robin procured another horse so she and I could go riding together. I would fall in love with the lovely chestnut Morgan mare, but again, that’s another story.
When we rode we told our stories and Robin asked often why I stayed with the narc. I shared that I felt trapped and obligated and confused as to why he was such a dick for no reason. She was an invaluable sounding board, wondering aloud why the narc and I were together when we were so obviously not suited.
She eventually left Dave and moved in with another man. She kept her horses at Dave’s and we still rode often. Then I moved to Lebanon and we both had to drive to see the horses. It was fine. Not as good as it once was, but we still saw each other every week and between us were able to ride the horses enough to keep them in training.
Robin broke her back in an accident when she was a teenager and had three fused vertebrae which caused her a lot of pain. She was able to do her job at Safeway most of the time, but her back began to get worse and she took time off to go to the doctor and let her back rest. The doc recommended surgery but her company insurance balked at the cost and delayed approving the procedure. The doc was happy to prescribe pain pills, which she enjoyed way too much with her beer.
Her back pain became so bad that her doc demanded she take a leave of absence from work until she was approved for surgery. Guess what? You have to work a minimum number of hours or Safeway will drop you from their insurance policy. They delayed her surgical approval until she basically couldn’t walk and had to take enough time off (all with doctor approval) that they could drop her insurance.
Maybe you can see where this is going?
She was in pain and caught the seasonal bug going around and couldn’t make it out to the barn to care for the horses. She had bought feed and shavings but hadn’t been able to deliver them so Harley and I drove over to her house to pick them up.
She was very slow to open the door and I knew as soon as I saw her face that she was dying. She wouldn’t let me in. I didn’t have her boyfriend’s number. She refused to let me call an ambulance or take her to the hospital. She swore that her boyfriend (why can’t I remember his name?) was on his way home to take her to the hospital and she would be fine. She gave me the keys to her car and I loaded the horse stuff into mine, and knocked on the door once again.
I repeated my pleas that she get to the hospital. She swore she was fine. I returned her keys and drove away, tears in my eyes because I knew I would never see her again.
The next evening I got a call from Dave. Robin was in hospital. In a coma. Organs shutting down. No visitors allowed. He called again a few hours later to tell me that she had died. It was February 5, 2008. Every time I think of her I regret not dragging her to the hospital myself, but the little cowgirl was stubborn and would have fought me the whole way.
I can’t touch a horse without remembering our happy rides together. She was the first person to tell me the narc was an asshole and that I deserved better. She always told it like it was and I loved that about her. Her death is the reason I rarely shop Safeway. I find myself missing her today and hoping that she and her beloved Bear are riding the trails in a better place.