Sunday, July 6, 2008


My friend Sharion lies in a hospital bed. She is buried in tubes. Machines clink and hiss, feeding her, monitoring her, breathing for her. They keep her tied to the passing hours, the rising and setting sun, tied to us.
A quick jump from a young horse, and the rare instance of an unbalanced seat, has put her here.
Her family waits in quiet fear. They try to be gentle with one another, old transgressions set aside. For now at least, only tomorrow matters. The next day, the next hour, the next minute, each passing second is celebrated. Each moment that passes is another they still share as a complete family.
The weight of the future is settling on their shoulders. A volatile mixture of hope, anger, terror, and sorrow combine into a daily companion they will become uneasily accustomed to. New routines are becoming established. Routines that revolve around hospitals, doctors, life sustaining machines, a mother and wife.
As friends, we can only wait, hoping to hear that all is well, Sharion is hanging in there, things are going OK. For now, we are barred from seeing her, touching her hand, knowing for ourselves how things are.
We meet in a restaurant, shaken, and talk in low voices. Our fears and speculations whispered between us. Something this awful cannot be talked about in normal tones, our dark fears can't be released into the cheerful conversation flowing around us.
I first met Sharion when I brought my small training business to a boarding stable in eastern Colorado.
She was the barn manager. She was pleasant and efficient, and we took an instant liking to each other. We had a lot in common, we both earned our living with horses. We had given lessons at the same place, worked for some of the same people.
We both had three-year-old fillies we were getting ready for competition. I was teaching and training, Sharion had given it up to become a barn manager, and earn back her non-pro status.
We got along.
We took our fillies out on a gorgeous fall afternoon. Students, work schedules, and demanding clients fell far behind as we trotted through the golden prairie grass.
"Let's kick it up a little." I said.
Sharion grinned and pushed her little bay into a lope.
Our horses were happy to be out, and got caught up in the lure of the open fields ahead of us.
My filly snorted, and crow hopped, striking out with her forefoot in play.
Sharion's horse picked up the invitation and began to buck.
"Whoop!" Sharion hollered."Whoo Hoo!"
She burst out laughing as we reined in our rowdy horses.
"Aren't these little ones fun?" She was still giggling as she soothed her excited horse.
We put the horses back into the lope and took off across the prairie.
Sharion was a hand. She soon became my friend.
She turned me on to the world of cutting horses.
I showed her my life with reined cowhorses.
Our differences were small, and we found ourselves more alike as our friendship grew.
We admire each other for our toughness.
Both of us are frustrated artists, both too emotionally involved in our horses to become truly competent in professional competition.
Her kids are grown, my daughter is on her way.
We are goofy over our dogs.
Our husbands are long suffering, and do their best to be patient with our horse crazy world.
We both appreciate a good Margarita, and each other.
Now I wait, hoping to hear a good word to pass along the phone tree.
I think about her pretty, infectious laugh. Sharion is truly delighted by the world. It often makes her burst out laughing during the day.
She loves her family.
She loves her horses and dogs.
She was thrown from a horse, trail riding with friends on a beautiful day. Her favorite thing to be doing, her favorite place to be.
Sharion will remain in an induced coma for at least a month.
If all goes well, she is facing at least a six month stay in the hospital.
I hope the coma lets her dream. I hope her senses are filled with the smell of a breeze through the pine trees, and sweat soaked saddle blankets. I hope she's riding her favorite roan mare, and can feel the steady push of her strong legs on the trail. I hope she sees the dust pooling around each hoof, as the horse in front of her presses it's eager way home. I hope she can hear the happy snorts of a well ridden horse, the creaking of her cutting saddle, and the silly jokes of her friends.
I hope she slowly, steadily, works her way back up the trail, back to the family that loves her.
I hope she rides back to us, her friends, who ache to hear her laugh.


  1. Oh Mugwump... My heart goes out to you and your friends. I will remember your friend when I say my thanks for my good fortune at the end of each day with the hope that some will find its way to you, your friend and her family.

    Sadly it can happen to any of us at any time.

  2. Mugs: So sorry to hear about your friend. I know there's nothing any of us can say to make you feel better. Just know that your friend is in our thoughts & prayers.

  3. That is the saddest truest thing I ever read. I send my love to you and your friend. It could happen to any of us any time. May all that is good come to pass.

  4. Thanks you's amazing how it helps to write about this stuff.
    Laura-did you get my reply?

  5. Will keep Sharon and all of you in our prayers here in the Southland.

  6. tonight I will, along with so many others I'm sure, be praying for your friend Sharon. I'm so sorry she and everyone who loves her is going through this time.

  7. As they say on the COTH BB, many jingles for Sharion, her family and friends, especially you mugwump.

  8. Mugs: I'm an ICU nurse and I believe hearing and sense of smell stay with you to some degree. So, I would encourage you to have someone bring her favorite music or poetry on CD player. The hospital ICU nurses can get the CD player approved for her room. Also Bath & Body make some wonderful soaps and lotions to be applied either by family or the nurses. Please feel free to email me directly if I can help in any way.
    Love and prayers

  9. Can't say it better than it's already been, but if it helps to know that thoughts and prayers are with you, know that you and yours have mine, as well.

  10. I'm so sorry for your friend, and her family, and her friends. I hope that the coma does what it's meant to do. (((hugs)))

  11. Damn. I sincerely hope the recovery for your friend will be swift. I am sending my best thoughts and prayers to Sharion and hope that she will be riding with you soon.

  12. So frightening. The others have said it all. Hoping all turns out well for everyone.
    Hang on to those pleasant memories.

  13. Thoughts and prayers for your friend, her family, and everyone who loves her.

  14. I've been lurking a few weeks, reading and learning.

    I am so sorry for your friend, and I hope her coma dreams are full of horse-breath, happy trail rides, and peaceful hand grazing.

  15. I am so sorry to hear that. My best wishes are with you, Sharon and her family for a healthy recovery so that you and she may ride together again.

    If what texasmissy says is true, take some leather from a saddle or hay from the barn for her to smell once you are able to be near to her :)

  16. Ohh, Im fighting back tears, that was beautifully written and I most definitely have Sharion in my prayers, as well as all the family and friends involved.

  17. I too will add Sharion to my prayers and her friend Mugwump.

  18. Such a sad story. I do wish everything turns out alright. All best wishes from me.

    My grandfather for about a year before he died would go into a sort of coma for three days and then be fine for a wile but it was horrible to know that this man I loved so much and that I joked with and listened to his stories was in this condition. When he would wake up from the comas he would say to me that he was glad I was there, no one told him I was there but he knew. He also said he dreampt his dog pookie licking his face and sleeping with him. She only left to eat and go to the washroom.
    So I too believe that people in a coma remember some things and do feel things to an extent.

    We never think about it when riding but the risks we take are more enormous than we can imagine. A horse always has a mind of its own. I had a friend of mine get into a pretty bad carriage accident a few months ago. Luckily he was wearing a helmet or I am sure he would not be here today because he landed right on his head and his helmet pretty much exploded.

  19. Prayers for your friend, Mugwump, and for all of her friends and family. I too hope that coma is letting her ride high ... when I was knocked unconscious as a result of a horseback riding accident two years ago, I had a *great* time "in the twilight." I hope it is like that for Sharion, and that she can tell you all about it herself soon.

  20. Our prayers go out to Sharion and her family, you and all her friends. Terrifying, I think I'll quit training.

  21. Prayers coming from the deep south as well. Even in grief, your writing style is moving. Thank you for sharing.


  22. So sorry to hear this. It truly does come when you don't expect it...when you're on your guard, you rarely get hurt. My worst accident was off a very easy horse. I'm sure a lot of people could say the same.

    I hope that this is nothing more for Sharon than the universe deciding she needed some rest, and that she'll be home with her family as soon as possible.

  23. Best wishes to you and Sharon's family. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery!

    My Best friend called me last month. Told me her horse fell on her and I needed to keep her awake untill she got to the hospital. She got lucky.