Monday, October 30, 2023

November Hill farm journal, 195

 I’ve put off writing this because it joins the many things I’m calling “the firsts” - the first time I’ve gone to our barn since 2005 and not seen Keil Bay’s handsome face, the first time I’ve fed tubs and not heard his musical whinny, the first time I’ve made up supplement jars with his not in the line, the first time I’ve mucked without his manure droppings being there, on and on and on. And the first November Hill farm journal without him here in body.

This all sounds very sad, and it is, and some of these things bring tears, a few things bring little fits of sobbing, but one very happy thing is that I feel peace when I think of him. I have been to his grave daily and when I do the goodnight mantra (good night, you Kings of Chatham, you Princes of November Hill) I add (and goodnight Keil Bay, King of Everything, and Salina the Queen). I feel him around us, as I have always felt Salina, but I also have very clear visual images in my mind of Keil galloping with his buddies, the ones he lived with when I first met him, Brio, and Joker, and then later Maverick. I see the collection of his neck and its curve as he coils up to then uncoil in a big, playful forward burst of motion. And I feel okay then about him not being here in his elegant, athletic body.

One thing I haven’t shared here is that I am doing EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) training this month and next month and will be moving on into the certification training in 2024. After years of referring out clients I felt needed EMDR, I decided it was time to add it to my own repertoire of modalities. So many people have trauma in my current practice, and with virtual therapy now the norm, it’s harder to know people to refer them to. 

Part of my training is to experience EMDR myself, and one of the core memories I worked with in two sessions was one in which my kitten was physically taken away from me (and kept) by an adult male neighbor and his teenaged son. I was 3-4 years old. I have discussed that memory in my own therapy previously, but when I reprocessed it using EMDR, I immediately felt the results in my experiences in the present day. I now see clearly how that early memory has impacted my experience of caring for and protecting my animal family.  I have dreaded for years Keil Bay’s passing because I knew it would be difficult beyond imagination. It has been hard, it has been sad, but thanks to EMDR it has not been devastating. 

My experience has been that I’m feeling the grief without the weight of that past memory pushing it into a much more intense level of emotion and powerlessness. 

At this point EMDR is being used to treat many issues, not just PTSD and trauma. I can now highly recommend it as a modality, and wanted to say that here. If you’re considering treatment, go to and look for certified clinicians for the best results. 

It’s fall on November Hill and it’s fitting that Keil Bay left us during this season, since this season is when we first came to our little farm. His grave is being slowly covered by falling oak and hickory leaves, and by acorns, and I’m sure he is happy about that. 

The herd continues to process this loss. Little Man and Rafer are actively seeking comfort from us. Cody seems a little distant and a little angry, but he allows comfort. Redford was the most distressed and it has taken him longer to process this. He is starting to get to his normal self but since he offered his constant companionship both two years ago when Keil went through his initial EPM bout and again recently, I think he is taking this hard. We’re offering Redford special attention and he is slowly moving through his own process. 

One other thing that has happened is I have opened up to the idea of riding again. Yesterday I got out my helmet and tried it on, and am actively thinking of working Cody and Little Man back into light riding time in case my grandson wants to ride. I haven’t ridden since Keil got EPM two years ago and retired, and I haven’t wanted to, I think because he has been my partner since he came to us and I just didn’t want to ride any other horse while he was here. We’ll see how this goes moving forward. 

The biggest thing I’m feeling right now is peace and relief that Keil Bay is no longer at risk of falling, that each day I wake up knowing he’s okay. That his life was long and it was good. That his passing was full of love and many peppermints. And that the bond we have will never be broken. His presence and his spirit are with me forever. That’s a lot, and what a gift from him to me. 

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