When you think of receiving a blessing, you think of a positive experience, right? Something happy! Blessings aren’t supposed to tear your heart apart or leave you sad and depressed, right? That’s what I used to think, but I recently realized… sometimes blessings are hard.
When I recently lost both of my horses within nearly a month of each other, I wondered why God (or whatever you believe in) would want that to happen. Not only did I lose them during the holidays of 2019/2020, but I started out a new decade burying Fritz, my 17-year-old gelding who I nursed back to health after a horrific hoof injury when he was only one-year-old.
I try not to get hung up on significant events around certain monumental dates. Who cares if it happened during the holidays or at the start of a new year? But I couldn’t help consider the death of my beloved buddy might lay a disappointing groundwork for the next year. Or worse, the next decade.
All of this happened around multiple other “shit storms,” as Sarah Knight would say, making my holidays less of a Christmas Vacation and more of a Nightmare Before Christmas.
In addition to losing my equine companions, my mother, who was the sole caregiver for my 93-year-old Granny suffering from dementia, fell on Christmas morning, broken her nose, and suffered some jarring head trauma. So in addition to being a nurse for my mom, I was also scampering to find care for my Granny. And the cherry on top? I was more sure than ever my marriage, which I tried for years to save, was over. Add the death of my horses to that pile of manure, and I was not feeling the recharging vibes of a new year and the proverbial blank slate that’s supposed to come with it.
But I tried my ever-faithful “Positive Visualization” technique and told myself past or present events didn’t necessarily set the tone for my future. I was in charge of that. Certainly, if I believed the positive would happen, then it would. Right?
And as it turned out, “Positive Visualization” is working pretty well for me. Even though sometimes its extremely forced.
Let’s take one “shit storm” at a time, shall we? (Again, I’ll credit this lovely phrase to Sarah Knight, author of “Calm the %*@# Down,” which I just finished reading. And don’t visit that link if you don’t like the “F” word!):
Storm #1: My Mother
Ok, so I have to start by saying, I don’t feel exactly right calling my mother a “shit storm…” But for sake of symbolism, I hope you understand, Mom! Love you!
Anyhoot, the shit storm of my mother’s accident was actually a blessing in disguise.
For nearly four years, my mother had been caring for my Granny, which was stressful for me, my sister, and my nieces because Mom has high blood pressure and is a fart-in-a-frying-pan on a good day. Throw in her mother, and it was an accident (in this case, literally) waiting to happen.
I’m happy to report, Mom’s fall didn’t result in much pain. Luckily, though, it forced her to slow down, which is something that eases all our minds. It also made it blatantly clear to her that she, in fact, can’t take care of my Granny full-time. (Can I get a “Thank ya, Jesus!”)
Storm #2: My Granny
The same applies… I don’t like calling my Granny a “shit storm,” but for sake of sticking with the theme, we’ll go with that…
Four years ago, my Granny began showing signs of dementia. Luckily, the disease has progressed slowly, but the early indications convinced my mother to live with and care for my Granny full-time.
In her healthier days, Granny would bake cakes, crochet, play cards, work puzzles, and have a pretty active social life. These days, not so much. Her activities mostly consist of napping, sitting in a recliner, and eating her favorite candy – 3 Musketeers and Peppermint Patties. She had become complacent and depressed.
My mother’s fall forced us to admit Granny to the nearby nursing home for temporary respite care. Though Granny was none-to-happy at first, the socialization has extremely helped her. She was even working puzzles again, which she hasn’t done for a long time! She is now home with in-home care, which allows rest time for my mom and also multiple faces for Granny to associate with.
The healthier situation for everyone wouldn’t have happened if my mother hadn’t taken that fall. (God works in mysterious ways, and if you don’t listen to him at first, he’ll definitely send you a wake up call. I believe Mom’s accident was simply God saying: “My child, I love you, but you have GOT to slow down!”
Storm #3: My Granny’s (and my Mother’s) Future Care
Anyone who has ever read about dementia or actually dealt with it knows a caregiver needs training to properly care for this type of patient. So it’s no surprise I (and the rest of my family) had been warning my Mother that one day, Granny would progress (or my Mom’s blood pressure and anxiety would progress) to a point where Mom couldn’t care for her.
No matter which way we look at it, the time has come for both.
My Mom is in her early 70’s. After caring for her family ALL her adult life, it’s her time to look out for numero-uno – her!
Similarly, the best thing for my Granny is NOT for her daughter to constantly watch her like a hawk, but to allow for a healthy level of socialization by having multiple people care for her.
What I’m trying to tell my mother, who is guilt-ridden because she isn’t taking care of Granny, is: You can’t completely sacrifice yourself for someone you love. If the best thing for both of you is also the easiest thing, then embrace that shit! That’s killing multiple shit storms at one time! (Again, credit to Sarah.)
#4: My Horses
Ugh… That was the toughest… But here’s the blessing in disguise:
For Fritz, he had been lame since his accident at one-year-old. (Read more about his fiasco in my article “Still Standing” featured in EQUUS magazine!) This tragedy meant continued vet and farrier visits, multiple surgeries, special shoes, and hobbling around the pasture for 17 years. However, even with a bum hoof, he was, according to his vets and farriers, a happy and healthy horse as you see in the video below, but with his particular injury, things could turn extremely fatal and extremely painful very quickly – my worst fear for my baby.
As it turns out, he did die in some pain – a broken pelvis – but because I discovered it quickly and got pain meds to him, he passed easily with me looking into his eyes and bidding him farewell – a much better exit than I feared.
For his mother, who died just a month before, she was nearly 30-years-old, had lost vision in one eye, was dropping weight, and was just old and tired. I was nervous about her surviving the winter anyway. I didn’t want her to die on a cold, icy day and have to endure the nasty, bitter winds.
One afternoon, after getting her grain, she communicated to me of her impending passing. The next day, the vet came to check her, and we decided to put her down. I also looked into her eyes as she passed, and she died on a bright sunny day. My heart was very peaceful, and I knew she was, too. (For any horse fans or pet-owners who’ve lost their companions, I suggest reading “The Bond of a Human and Horse.”
All these sorrowful things started my new year off in a whirlwind, and at first, I could easily say “Why God? Why did all these things happen?”
Once I got out of my selfish head, I realized, even though these things were stressful and sad, they were all blessings:
- Blessing #1: Because of her fall and required recovery time, my mother realized there is a better and healthier way for her to assume responsibility for my Granny’s care.
- Blessing #2: Because of Mom’s fall, Granny has a better situation for care and socialization. (Her caregivers are the best!)
- Blessing #3: My horses, even though they aren’t with me physically, are at peace and passed in a much more ideal way than they could have. To top it off, I was with them both. They didn’t die alone, in extreme pain, or in the frigid cold. So even though they’re gone, the way they went was a huge blessing. I (and they) are both at peace now.
Things don’t always play out the way we envision them. For me, a Christian that’s no where near perfect, I believe God has a handle on situations. He knows. Above all, things happen for a reason.
Even in sorrow and tragedy, bad things may happen to prevent even worse things. For instance, my Fritz died from a broken pelvis instead of extreme hoof trauma – a blessing in disguise. Other times, bad things may need to happen for new, healthier growth to develop. It’s like a forest fire for life.
It certainly may be hard to see it at the time, but we must trust it is all part of the master plan, and be thankful for the blessings we have received… realized or not.