I remember discreetly opening the wooden front door to a cool October night. I remember seeing a blanket of stars stretched over an obsidian sky. I remember the gleam of the moon reflecting off the sodden grass in the front yard. I remember softly tip-toeing down the nearly invisible front stairs on the porch to the front yard and stepping into the darkness. I remember the heavy iron gate, the entrance to your pasture, and I remember the brisk fall breeze sweeping brunette hair off my shoulders. I remember tightening my jacket around me before placing my hands on the frigid gate and letting myself into the familiar world of bliss. I remember the distinct click the gate made upon closing, seemingly shutting out the rest of the world. I remember the wind sweeping through the trees over the ten acres, rustling their leaves in a chorus of serenity. I remember the reassuring scent of fresh hay, the roll sitting just to my right. I remember the moonlight dancing on the white patches of your coat, making you barely visible in a vast darkness. I remember the draft of October lift your long mane and tail, and then letting it fall again. I remember the sound you made pulling the grass from the ground, muffled in the distance.
I remember having no intention of bothering you, lifting myself to the top of that roll of hay, inhaling the wonderful scent and letting it rush over me like water.
And I remember trying to push back the memories I’d been keeping locked away for years, memories I wish I couldn’t remember at all. But finally, in my only safe place, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.
I remembered the hurt. Felt the pain, the frustration, the anger, the sadness, the hopelessness. I remembered when I lost who I was because not all relationships are healthy. I remembered the way he betrayed my mind, my body, my trust. I remembered the day he first lost his temper, the hole in the wall, and the air between his fist and my head shifting. I remember his explosions of rage intensifying, a burst of anger if I did or said anything of which he did not approve. I remembered the persistent phone calls and text messages, demanding to know where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing at all hours. I remembered the drive to his house, knowing I would likely be hurt, either emotionally or physically, and praying it at least wouldn’t be both. I remembered the control he had to have, and the control he took from me. I remembered the way he would look at me when he whispered “I will take what I want when I want.” And I remembered how that phrase was always followed by pain in bed. I remembered the drugs, the white powder always in lines on the kitchen table, and the discomfort I felt with its presence. I remembered “I love you, I’m sorry, it’ll never happen again,” followed by forced tears and an eery hint of madness in his amber eyes. I remembered nights lying my aching head on a wet pillow. I remembered being too afraid to leave him for the threats, fear of my safety and my life holding me, like chains, in a hole so deep I couldn’t feel the sun. Only hands of hate touched me anymore.
I remembered all of me being taken away from myself by a monster disguised as a flawless portrait of a gentleman. My confidence shattered, my joy stolen, my hope smothered, everything just… Gone. I remembered someone once told me the brain can black out memories for the sake of the soul burdened by them, so there were things I couldn’t remember at all. I remembered being broken.
Sitting on that roll of hay in the cloak of darkness, I remember crying. I remember letting go, letting my heart go. I remember quivering, the flash flood of emotion, hurt, embarrassment, regret, self loathing, rage, brokenness being so overwhelming my body couldn’t hold itself together anymore. I remember sore eyes, a chilled face, and a broken heart. And asking for help.
And then I remember hearing you. A gentle patter of hooves in the distance. I remember the steps you took getting closer. And the next thing I remember was your breath on my neck, warm, and the chill around me dissipating. I remember lifting my head from my hands to see you standing beside me, your pearly patches glistening in the moonlight, and your nose like velvet resting on my shoulder. I remember the reflection in your eyes, dark, deep, soft, trusting, understanding. I remember you stood with me, comforting me with your presence and gentleness while my heart fell apart. I remember resting my forehead on yours, tears falling like rain down my cheeks and landing on your nose. I remember sliding off the hay, wrapping my arms around you. Right then you were strong when I couldn’t be. I was so thankful for you, your understanding that there are some things people cannot heal that an animal can. You were so patient, allowing me to hold onto you for as long as I needed. You stood with me in a way no person ever had.
That night you chose to help heal me, and help me heal me. I hoped I could tell you in a way you would understand thank you. I appreciate you. I am grateful for you. You have done everything for me, and I would try do to everything for you. You taught me how to trust others, and how to trust myself. You reminded me there are some things worth believing in, and some things worth living for.
I love you. I will always love you. And I will always remember.