January: The Mourning Month.

Winter doldrums: I’m dragging my feet all the way in from the arena, the ground is dry, the grass is dead and the wind is cold as a slap in the face. Maybe I have an Auld Lang Syne hangover. Mourning and a desire to hibernate go hand in hand in January. It seems we lose alot of good people in this month. I’m missing a friend who passed 6 years ago this week.

We were an odd pair- Randi and I could not have been more different. Our best game over the years was trying on each other’s shoes. Randi would have green, buttery-leather pumps- very Italian, and I would have wooly mukluks. She would have strappy stiletto sandals and me- red longhorn bull cowboy boots.  We were both hopeless victims to our taste in shoes. We’d trade shoes, point at each other, and cackle like with chickens. Try it- your shoes look silly on someone else.

For all of our differences, our lives mirrored each other. We lost our dads within weeks of each other and then 4 years later, both of our moms. Through 25 years of friendship, love, and loss, we celebrated art and dogs and living passionately.

I’m remembering a winter day when Randi brought her step-grand-daughter down to my barn for a long-promised ride. There was a sudden weather change. The wind was nasty, that January kind of cold. We couldn’t talk the grand-daughter out of it, so we tacked up the old horse. Once in the saddle, her chin quivered uncontrollably. I’ve never seen a little girl so excited and miserable all at once. Randi and I pressed onto either side of my horse, squinting at each other over his mane. All four of us moved in a walking huddle, ducking our chins as we headed into the wind- we laughed and shivered, and sang horse songs.

I want to tell all the Randi stories, so you will miss her like I do.

A couple of years later there was similar weather for her graveside service, with snow on the trees and frost in my lungs. There was such an exquisitely painful moment as the casket was lowered. I felt the warmth of her friendship that day, too.

And now it is 6 Januaries later.  I’ve lost more friends and horses and dogs since then. It’s kind of warm, visiting with them in the winter. Winds blow, the earth is frozen and I still work to find a balance between hello and good bye. I notice that the older I get, the more practice I have.

But there isn’t much time to languish now. Days are longer already. Soon there will be mud, and even more horse hair on my clothes. The pond will thaw for baby ducks and miraculously, grass will grow. There are horses to start and people to meet. Can I try on your shoes?

 “Excess of grief for the dead is madness; for it is an injury to the living, and the dead know it not.” Xenophon (RIP, 354 BC)

(for W.C.)

Anna, Infinity Farm.

6 thoughts on “January: The Mourning Month.

  1. Kari Rugh

    Anna,
    Randi was one of very best! I am glad that you chose to tell a few your ‘Randi stories’. She was an amazing woman. I feel her presence often.
    Kari

  2. Samantha

    Thank you Anna for this lovely blog, I lost my best friend 2 days ago. Buggs and I have been together for 22 years, he was best and sometimes only friend. I have to keep reminding myself to tell the good and funny stories of our life together. The times he ran off with just because he could or the best dressage lesson I have ever had when I made him mad and he gave me the extended trot to remember. Thanks again.

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