I had an entry written and ready to type when I got to a computer this morning. It was suppose to be about babies and role models and self doubt. But when I got to work this morning, everything changed.
I am a therapeutic horseback riding instructor. I teach children and adults with disabilities how to ride horses and provide them with a fun form of therapy. I have seen many miracles happen but I have seen my share of miseries. This morning was the worst misery I have encounter in my job.
Each Tuesday I teach two adult riders from an assisted living home. Elaine and Dempsey have been coming to MANE since before I even started volunteering there. They had another rider that I had worked with but never taught who died about four years ago. Since then Elaine and Dempsey have continued to come out, and I have taught them for about on and off since I was hired at MANE. I taught them for at least the past year consecutively.
In the Spring, Elaine was diagnosed with other have health issues that I was assured were stabilized though you could see in her riding they were affecting her. When she started again this Fall, she used her limited communications to tell us she did not feel comfortable on the horse. I, as her instructor, was highly distressed. Elaine had always loved riding and had never, ever asked to get down. I knew in my gut something was wrong.
We continued to try to ride, even if for one lap each time, just to have fun and to rule out that it was not attention seeking behavior. She skipped riding last week because she was having some teeth pulled; the staff, volunteers, and the staff at the assisted living center, were optimistic that this would make a world of difference.
When I got into work today, my co-worker informed me that Elaine has passed away peacefully in her sleep Friday night. They unsure what the cause was, but that she was not in pain. My coworker assured me that she was in a better place and being her old self- the self that we loved. I couldn’t say anything; I was in shock. No one had any indication that she was this sick. I had come in this morning with plans for her tomorrow-now I have none.
I am unsure about what to do with myself, other than stay busy. I try to keep the tears at bay till I can get some private time. I have volunteers I have to tell. The devastation on their faces seems like it will be too much to take. So I have told one and my co-worker is helping me tell the others. We have a group of volunteers that have worked with these riders for years. We are a team. And now our team is short one member.
On my part, I will miss her with all my being. She was truly one of those spirits who was happy no matter what life threw at her. I will remember her tricky ways, and her hugs, and the fact that I taught her something that made her so happy. I have always known I made a difference in her life, but I was never aware of what a difference her life made to mine.
As I wipe the tears from my eyes, and my lunch break time wanes, I try to put away the sad “what is class going to be with out her thoughts”, and her laugh. I made her time her on Earth a little better.
Here’s to Elaine. You will be missed my smiling bean bag throwing trickster. “I hope they love you like we do.”
Song quotations are from “Angel” by The Coors.