A Horse Called Rosie
This story is important to me because it combines the themes of young widowhood and a love of horses.
I have been a horse-lover all my life, but because of pressure of life and finances (horses are very expensive to ride and to keep!) I only came back to riding about thirteen years ago. There's is something about horses; their gentleness, their tolerance, their smell, and, funnily enough, their understanding. When I fractured my spine a few years ago, my horse at the time (rather a lively one) was incredibly gentle with me when I first started riding again, almost as though he knew I wasn't myself. After a couple of sessions, he obviously decided I was better, and returned to his usual bouncy self, but I was grateful to him for taking it easy and giving me time to get used to him again. I have heard similar stories from other people. I now have a huge bay horse called Fairfax (shortened to the unlikely name of Fairy, which doesn't suit anyone his size!), and he is lovely. I am very lucky to have a horse, and never forget what a privilege it is to own one.
As regards the other inspiration for the story, I was widowed in my forties, so that theme is close to my heart. I know about the grief, the despair, and the (often odd) expectations of other people. I don't think anyone who hasn't been through it can begin to imagine what it's like, so I won't try to describe it (and besides, it's different for everyone), but grief can be like a kind of illness, and takes a lot of time to come to terms with. Bereavement isn't something you ever "get over"; the best description I've heard is that, over time, it turns from a wound into a scar; i.e it never goes away, it always leaves its mark, but it does eventually fade and become manageable. Part of my novel The Birds, the Bees and Other Secrets, which describes a tragic accident, was written from my own experience of bereavement. I was fortunate enough to re-marry - a lovely man who helped me on my return to "normal"- but my life is still divided into two parts: before and after the death of John. I think that anyone who has suffered a bereavement will understand what I mean.
I didn't own a horse at the time my husband died, but I know that had I had one, (after my friends and family) it would have been the horse to which I would have turned for comfort.
Thanks Frances. You've had some terrible experiences in life. I think we can all relate to the comfort that animals can bring those who are suffering. What a beautiful horse!
I'm off on holiday tomorrow - Lake District for a week. When I get back there'll be another guest post, from Kate Long, followed by I hope some exciting news of my own... watch this space!