This morning, Gentle Reader – clearing the dross of my mind via journaling, I seem to have been consumed by friendship: the loss thereof. It might have been due to dreams that I’ve recently suffered, or to a conversation with a certain Miss Spectacular, near three in the morning.
There are many people that I love, and have loved. Those that I loved most deeply I still deeply love, but they are less involved in my day-to-day, or not at all – torn from me, or cast away. Those that I loved moderately, with good sense, remain involved in my daily life. Those that I never loved, I can’t seem to shake; they’re tethered by their love of me.
I know where a horse lies buried.
Friends that I never liked or trusted, but did indeed love, once, used to count on me above all others. The day my mother flew to New Zealand, I had dropped her off at the airport. I was supposed to go see a head-doctor for the first time. Without someone by my side to drive me there, to quite literally force me to go, I couldn’t manage the trip – I’m terrified of doctors, of diagnoses. I received one telephone call after another, from a mother and daughter with whom I was quite close, but didn’t actually like. I ignored them; I had my own duties, my own troubles.
I finally listened to their messages, after Miss K. rang me up. She explained the situation more succinctly than their six messages would; their ancient horse had died. Jem*, the mother, was alarmingly portly and recently destitute; the daughter, Emilly*, was slight, and earning as much as a 19 year old can, which isn’t much. They needed help. Though knowing many other able-bodied young men, and knowing that I was Officially Unavailable for Anything that day, I was the one -the only one- that they trusted with their troubles. It was nearly dusk.
I rushed over in my truck. They had had all day to find someone else, or at least pick a spot for burial, but had chosen coffee with K. instead. K had been trying to convince them to select another savior, in vain, and was reading to dig the hole herself – K. is unbearably thin, and only strong when she’s in one of her rages, which is often. K. and I called my ex-husband, who’s rather robust, and made several calls to other young men of our acquaintance who would be able to help. Eventually, we were able to rouse my Auntie R., who has a very busy social calendar and is active in SCA, the con scene, and the local drag court (he’s almost never free), and, later yet, my former neighbor, and K’s future flame, Mr. King.
We dug. From dusk until, no, not quite until dawn, we dug. Even K. jumped into the pit, and shoveled until the sweat was in her eyes. We did our best, by hand through hard clay, to treat the corpse – staring at us, all the while; we hadn’t thought to close his eyes – with respect. Unfortunately, eight hours later, our hole was shallow – four feet deep, barely enough for Old Red, and Eight by Four, if the irregular blob had been squared off. We had to tie the poor thing to Ex-Husband’s tow hitch, and drag the body with his truck, until we rolled him into his grave. I’m reasonably certain that we broke no bones.
We entombed Old Red in wire fencing, to keep the coyotes from getting to his corpse, should they dig him up, and back-filled the grave. Being of a mystic and spiritual bent, after he was buried, I performed certain rites and rituals taught me by father, modified from Native American ceremonies, for the death of a beloved animal. Crying, Jemilly toasted their friend, and passed around the bottle. We broke up, for the evening, seeking our beds just as the sun rose.
Jem and Emilly, who I never much liked, but indeed loved, no longer speak to me. There were injustices on both sides, imprecations, degradations. Jem got the final barb in, after I moved here, to Teaberry, turning some people I mentored and loved very much indeed against my memory. I don’t begrudge her for this, as I did her many a bad turn, and deserve such a punishment. Nonetheless, I know where a horse lies buried.
*Yes, yes, names. Jemilly – it’s what we used to call Emilly II, who was the daughter of a woman who called herself Jem† – to distinguish her from the good Emily. While friendly with them for ages, we weren’t exactly close; we moved in the same circles, invited one another to functions, and quietly despised one another. We no longer speak.
†Yes, she’s truly, truly, outrageous. She chose that name, and I can respect that process, but she was altogether a scheming, backstabbing, vicious, woman, and I’m glad that she’s no longer a part of my life.