I had to go to the lawyer yesterday. It's one of those things I'd been putting off. She's lovely -- a friend of a friend -- smart, witty, kind, so it's not that. It's not her, per se. These things are just difficult. They are hard on the psyche. Does that make sense? I am profoundly aware of my ability to deal with anything, any hardship, any emergency, to be strong and ordered and clever and quick-thinking, and then to fall into a heap two days later.
It reminded me a bit of my Sunday adventure. I'd been to see Fred (the horse) -- who, you will be happy to know, is 20 on November 11 -- at his new home in La Tuna Canyon. I've given him to a children's riding school where my daughter learned to ride, for a few years, to give a little girl some pleasure. And he has found a little girl called Lucy and she has found him and so all is well. As I was leaving -- and I was the only one at the barn -- I heard the thundering of hooves, and a horse was galloping down the trail from the mountain towards me. I knew if I didn't catch the horse it would go straight into the road, so I ran onto the trail and waved my arms in the air to make myself as big as possible and brilliantly, quite oddly, the horse stopped, stirrups and reins flying. He stood very quietly as I grabbed the bridle. He was a sweet boy, a bay, thoroughbred, about 16.2. And then I looked down. His whole chest, from one foreleg to the other was ripped open and a flap of skin the size of a t-shirt was hanging down. Blood was pouring out of the bucket-sized hole, skin and muscle and flesh was exposed and the blood was pooling at his feet. It was coming out as fast as you can pour water out of a kettle. I had the dog under my arm, the little dog, as I was scared she'd be trampled, and I managed somehow to lead the horse to the car so that I could put the dog in it (and wondered later why there was so much blood around my car). I took off the saddle and some Mexican ranchers who live behind the barn came down to help with a towel and a halter. We pressed the towel against the gaping flesh in an attempt to stop the bleeding but nothing seemed to stem it. One of the guys threw up. It was hard to look at. The rider appeared -- dusty, dazed, a little hysterical. We sat her down and gave her water while trying through spotty cell service to get a hold of a vet. Dr Bradley, whose office is right in that canyon, was on call at the horse show, but he was helpful in finding someone else. The horse was so good. He stood quietly if a little wobbly while we tried to get help. He was a good boy. Finally the trainer showed up and took over. A vet was on his way, and I left. On the way home I sobbed and shook. I couldn't get the image of the enormous wound out of my head. I think it might have been the worst thing I've ever seen.
The horse is fine. He is at the Equine Hospital in Chino. He'll be there for a week or two, but they think he'll be fine. Dr Bradley explained that horses are big animals with gallons of blood so they can afford to lose a few pints. Honestly, I'd never seen blood pour out like that. It is a relief to know that he will be okay.
And so why is the divorce lawyer like the horse with the gaping wound? Because it's the worst thing I've ever done. There is a sense of disbelief. I didn't think my life would turn out this way. I'm not saying that in a feeling sorry for myself way. Far from it. It's just not what I'd planned, not what I imagined. Somehow I'd seen us in Maine, on the coast, wrapped in blankets in our Adirondack chairs, with books, perhaps the New York Times, spectacles perched on the ends of our noses, our cold hands clasping each other's in our old age. That's the way I thought it would be.
But things don't always work out the way you imagine. You just don't imagine that nearly thirty years of your life will be boiled down to a list of belongings. You don't imagine yourself saying, "who's going to get the wedding silver?" Every little thing in this house has a story. Every little thing is waiting to find out its fate. There are too many memories to sift through.
But here's the thing: skin heals, wounds get better and there is room for other happy endings. Or so I keep telling myself.