One Day at a Time

In the month of May, I lost one of my best friends, dressage judge Carter Bass. She fell, hit her head in her house, and passed away. Two weeks later, my life partner Peter complained of not feeling well and went to lie down. When I checked on him two hours later, he had passed. A week after that, my good friend Allison had to put her beloved dog Hedwig down.

Front left: Carter Bass, Helen George, Tigger Montague, Susan Roblin. Back row: wranglers

Hedwig the Pomeranian




Denial: A river in Egypt

Am I dreaming this? I want to wake up right now. Is Carter really gone? Is Peter really dead? Where’s Hedwig?

I am imagining this, making it up. My worst fears. This is not real.

Peter just took a trip, he is coming back, I need to call Carter…

Is this really happening?

The Wednesday

The Wednesday morning that Peter died was a normal Wednesday. Everything about it was normal, from him making coffee, to me feeding the dogs. To watching the wild birds on the feeders and answering emails. Then, a few hours later, what was normal was gone. The new reality was here. And I was so utterly unprepared. A Wednesday I will never forget.

Sunset on The Wednesday

Under the covers

I just wanted to stay under the covers. I wanted the world to stop. Why wasn’t the sun grieving with me?

My mind went from denial one minute, to complete brain fog the next, and then to a kind of catatonic state. I didn’t want to talk or communicate.

And underneath it all, in the dark heavy earth of my grief, the lingering questions: how will I survive this, and what is my new reality?

They saved me

There were horses to water, dogs and chickens to feed, bird feeders that needed filling, a vegetable garden to tend to, and BioStar.

I did a consultation two days after Peter passed and it was a relief, a sense of normal again, of doing what I do because that is my life. And even though Carter and Peter are gone, I still have what I do, and that is an immeasurable blessing.

The BioStar team leaped into action and I felt their incredible support, holding me up from disappearing under the covers. Their collective empathy, compassion, and strength was and is the energy I ride on these days.


My ex-husband used to tell me I’d be a good pilot because I was good at compartmentalizing: the ability to isolate issues and keep myself moving forward, looking forward, thinking forward. The ability to get on with it. This skill, or more specifically coping/defense mechanism, has served me well (I think).

But I suddenly found myself in a place of fear, loss, and sorrow, and rather than compartmentalizing it, I am sitting in it.

The message I keep receiving is, Feel All of It: the heaviness, the weight of it, the scary parts, the painful parts, the inertia parts, the overwhelmed parts, the need to be alone parts, the I don’t give a damn parts, the why did this happen part, the poor me, the memories, the now-vacant space Peter and Carter once occupied.

Don’t push it all away.

Feel it, soften into it, trust. This is your now.

The heart has reasons that the mind doesn’t know

Feelings are complicated, and for me, not nearly as precise as my mind, nor as practical. Being able to find what I call a neutral place of observation, compassion and listening is how I do consultations, be a good friend, work with the animals, listen to the trees, and hopefully be a good business owner. Being in that neutral space allows me to hear my intuition, create new formulas, and problem-solve.

Crying does not come easily for me. And right now I am cried out. The well is dry but the feelings are not.

The new normal

In truth I was complacent. I took Peter and our life together for granted. He and I became friends in 1982. Carter’s and my friendship began in 1988, and I took her friendship for granted. Peter would always be with me. Carter would always be a phone call away.

I have lurched from How do I survive this? to What do I want my new normal to be? … I don’t know. I have no pictures.

I have made little changes. Like taking Peter’s two favorite coffee containers (a mug and a china cup) and putting them in the dishwasher—something he refused to do in the 13 years we lived together because he felt that the chemicals of the dishwashing detergent affected the taste of his coffee. So, he hand-washed (I use that term loosely) his mug and coffee cup every day. When I took them out of the dishwasher they sparkled. And that made me smile and whisper, “Neener neener neener!”

I have re-homed half of Peter’s flock of chickens (including the rooster who attacked me three times since Peter’s passing). It’s easier with only nine hens to take care of instead of twenty. Originally, I thought I would re-home the whole group, but in the end I just couldn’t. And I’m glad there are still hens here. Peter loved his birds.

Remembering the magic…

What got lost for me in the shock and the sorrow was the magic. I was so deep in grief I forgot about that invisible force that flows through everything. It took an old grandmother walnut tree, a hummingbird, and a flicker woodpecker to remind me of the magic, the messages, a way of being, and a way forward in the now.

No matter how large the void Peter and Carter left, there is still magic.

 …and the blessings

Carter and Peter passed quickly without hospitalization, without treatments, without tubes and machines.

They left behind a pirate’s chest full of memories. Even Jack Sparrow would feel rich.

My biological family, my BioStar family, customers, Peter’s two kids, and my friends continue to be the supporting waters I swim in. I may live alone, but I am not alone.

My intuition and perception seem to be operating on a new level. That which I took for granted, I now treasure. I am more aware of the little things, maybe because the grieving process has given me permission to slow down.

 …and the music

Peter and I shared a passion for music. His eclectic range of tastes blasting out of a bluetooth speaker in his Man Cave included opera, Mozart, Debussy, Dylan, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, The Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, Zappa, and Buddhist chants and prayer bells.

Although he was a thoroughbred racehorse guy (bought, raced, and sold claiming horses back in the day), he loved the yearly Challenge of the Americas (COTA) Grand Prix quadrille competition held in Wellington, Florida every year. He sent live-stream links to friends and his children. He always called me after it was over to give me his assessment of the various music choices of each team, including team BioStar. He was my greatest cheerleader.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
(Anthem, Leonard Cohen)


Whether we grieve for a horse, a dog, a cat, or a human,
we honor the process each in our own way. As it should be.


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