Mac died three years ago today.
It's been a painful, challenging, and amazingly beautiful three years. I spent most of it suffering from clinical depression and fighting to get my life back. Once I emerged from the fear and the darkness, however, I started seeing life in a whole new way. I went from wanting to die to seeing beauty in just about every aspect of my life. I've been able to come through even some of the most negative moments in the past few years with a positive attitude where I can promise myself that I can make it through.
I remember some of my first rides on Stella in Larry's old Western work saddle (because it would have been too dangerous to ride her in an English saddle, as I do today). She would canter and basically bolt off. She would stop pretty well, but there was otherwise little control. I remember that I had to ride her in the pasture some and she was absolutely insane. I'm surprised I didn't fall off of her, let alone get myself killed, during some of those rides. She was really spooky, too. I remember halting her and just sitting in the middle of the ring, hanging my head and crying because my beloved Mac was lost forever. Honestly, I hated Stella back then. She was young and flighty, and I didn't want to deal with her. Moreover, she was alive. Stella was alive and Mac was dead; that didn't seem fair to me in my grief.
She's come so far over the years, too. So have I. Larry told me the other night that we've become quite the pair--Stella is maturing and I know her well enough to keep her on track when she feels the need to flare up. Mindy showed her a bit at the big Quarter Horse show we went to, and after a class where Stella had misbehaved, Mindy kept complaining about how Stella will basically fall apart if her rider isn't in complete control at all times. Nancy, a woman who gave me riding lessons a while back before going into therapeutic riding, once told me that I needed to learn how to "ride every stride" if I wanted to succeed in riding difficult horses. I could never seem to understand that concept until recently. It's an amazing feeling, too.
After three years, I think it's unnecessary to mourn Mac's death as I have in the past. I often think about him and all of the things that we experienced together, and sometimes I go out to his grave just to sit and think. I don't think I'll ever reach a time where I'm perfectly okay with thinking a lot about him and not tearing up. I'm slightly teary now, but I'm also smiling and thinking about the last three years of change. I don't believe in an afterlife, so I'm not banking on seeing him again someday. I do, however, believe that we all live on in stories and memories.
Long live Sir Mac!