When I got there, I found her lying down with her nose in the sand. She was in pain, and he was standing over her looking to me for help.
It was the second time that week that I had found her hurting like this, and I wondered if this time really was the end.
The first time, a shot seemed to have made all the difference, the pain subsided for three days and to my eyes she seemed much better – but there was an overlaying problem that had not been diagnosed.
In the hushed conversations between the vet and the barn owner there had been grave concern about the ‘toxic line’. Everyone seemed to know something I didn’t but I could tell by the look of deep concern. “She won’t make it to the hospital”… he said.
A second bout of pain caused me to call in a new vet who ended up saying those same words, “It doesn’t look good,” but still it didn’t register with me.
It wasn’t until much later when he explained that the toxic line that was still there only comes when the organs are shutting down. It is something that the veterinarians see before imminent death. I’m so glad Zorro and I didn’t know, we just stayed there holding the space of possibility for Cierba.
It was way too cold for South Carolina, humid and thirty degrees and raining ice. By 5:00pm we had run out of ideas and the vet started to prepare a powerful shot for pain when “the time comes later tonight”. I asked the doctor for one more thing, I wanted to give her fluids through IV since she hadn’t been drinking for days and I knew that fluids would make her more comfortable.
We warmed the giant bags of fluids in a microwave to bring them to body temperature. In this cold she could have suffered from hypothermia with cold fluids being pumped into her veins. I still held out hope that it would bring her comfort and that it might give her some much needed energy to help heal.
Zorro, her companion for the last 10 years had been watching from twenty feet away in the pasture across from her stall. He couldn’t stop pacing, running back and forth and whinnying in the sleet. He kept calling out to her as she stood there. She was drugged so that she wouldn’t feel as much pain and to help her allow the needle of the IV.
Through Cierba’s haze, she seemed focused on Zorro as well.
I haltered Zorro and brought him in from the pasture and to her stall and tied him to the outside wall. He had a blanket to keep him warm while he stood in the dark and in the rain. He didn’t move a single foot for hours, he just stood vigilant as he waited and watched through the tiny crack in the stall wall while she took the fluids into her body.
While the IV slowly dripped into her, I placed my hands instinctively on her hind quarters. I remember the vet looking at my hands and then at me, but neither of us said anything about what I was doing. He was focused on the flow of the IV and I was focused on where she wanted my hands for Reiki. Earlier that week, when she had the first bout with pain, she literally lifted her back leg for me to place my hands on her belly. I knew this was where the pain was.
I had been trained in the ancient form of healing called Reiki, but what transpired was beyond words in those dire hours. I could feel our connection deepening and I could sense how much she appreciated my help. My hands were still on her body, flowing with a steady stream of energy that I could easily feel.
It’s hard to put into words what happened over those hours but I recall that I wasn’t afraid. I knew we were together – in this moment – honoring life no matter what it brings.
I guess you could say that my heart was resolved to honor what ever she needed to do… I was ready for her to stay with us here on this earth, or to make the choice to go. All I wanted was to bring her comfort and to let her know how very much I loved her.
It was over four hours before the IV was finally complete and Cierba seemed to perk up a bit. I took off her halter and let her loose in the stall. The very first thing she did was walk right over to the side of the stall where Zorro stood still watching between the cracks. She lifted her front hoof and struck the wall. I understood immediately that she wanted him in the stall beside her.
It was only a small box stall, but this was what they both wanted. I knew if she went down in the night that there would be no room for him and it could be a problem, but I also knew that this seemed to be the most important thing we could do in this moment, and I would be there through the night if they needed me.
From the moment Zorro came in, he lined up right beside Cierba and never left her side. She lowered her head towards him and she was finally able to rest. They were both exhausted.
Our vet didn’t go home until well after 10 that night, he had been with us since the afternoon doing everything he could to help.
Just before he left, he gave me some very powerful shots to give to Cierba if she relapsed… he didn’t hold much hope, but he could see that we had not given up. He said to call no matter time, and that he would be here within 30 minutes to help her if she didn’t make it. Thirty minutes…
I am so grateful that I never had to make that call. To everyone’s surprise but me and Zorro, Cierba was looking much better the next morning and with each day she continued to improve. The vet came back several times to check on us and by the third day he felt she was well on her way to a full recovery as impossible as that seemed to him.
He finally told me the words that I could not hear the day he examined her. He said that the odds were next to none and that he didn’t think she even had a chance with what he saw and had felt in her exam.
Three other vets that I consulted said that what we experienced was impossible and that she shouldn’t have lived. We both used the word ‘miracle’.
I know what really happened.
Throughout the week there had been so many messages of hope and support from all of our friends and seemingly from everywhere on the Internet.
So many people prayed for us, held us in their hearts, made alters of hope and love, and sent Reiki as well as other healing practices across the miles.
Throughout that difficult night, we were held in the benevolent hands of love, and we are forever grateful.