I did not give much thought to horse racing until two years ago almost to the day, May 20, 2006. We were having dinner at my uncle's house. After a week at the beach, Tim and I stopped at his house on our long journey back home.
We were watching the Kentucky Derby when Barbaro false started and broke three bones in his hind leg. I'll never forget watching the way he carried his leg, moving it constantly in pain. My heart hurt so badly for him. It was at that point I vowed never to watch horse racing again.
Fast forward two years later, May 3, 2008. We were once again at his hous. It was the same family members gathered as before. I was sitting in the kitchen talking with my cousin, aunt and mom. Tim went and sat with my uncle in the living room. He is in his 90's and still runs the family farm. He's a quiet man of few words. However, I could hear him and Tim talking about Cara. I wanted Tim to enjoy that moment with him, so I stayed in the kitchen.
After a few minutes, I heard the Kentucky Derby come on the TV. For certain at that moment, I was not going in the next room. Dinner was ready, but we sat and waited for Tim and my uncle to join us. Something was interesting enough that it required the huge Vizio TV in the kitchen to be turned on in order for dinner to proceed with everyone there. (Yes, he is an old man in an old farmhouse, but he does have nicer TVs than we'll ever own. I guess that's one guilty pleasure you can allow yourself when your eyes and hearing start to go.)
And there it was...another horse, Eight Belles, lying broken on the track about to be euthanized. She had come in second and collapsed. My heart hurt for her instantly. I thought about my own life, how I was running a race with all of my friends. I was the last one of all of them to have a baby. They passed the finish line, victorious, receiving their blanket of roses. I passed the finish line, only to collapse in a heap after giving birth. The very life knocked out of me. I knew Eight Belles's pain.
I'll get up. I have tried, but I still fall back in a lifeless mound. My race has stopped; theirs is still going strong.
I talked to another mother today who lost a child four years ago to stillbirth. She, a woman of faith, said people will tell you that time heals, it doesn't. I asked if it dulls the pain. She said I wish I could tell you that it did, but it doesn't. There are still times when the pain is going to be very real even years later.
And so this is blanket that I must carry. Not a blanket of roses, but a blanket of mourning covered over my broken spirit.