Shaun (who is getting better by the day!) had been out of the second hospital for a few days when Daisy invited us over to dinner. She bought a house, helped us in the hospital, closed escrow, and moved all in the same weekend. Daisy gets the extreme talent award.
She simultaneously texted Shaun and I.
Daisy: Dinner Friday? My house? Low key. Just us.
Shaun: Y. Time?
Jane: No. S just out of hospital, still can’t eat. Rain check?
Daisy: Do you guys ever talk to each other?
Jane: no. your point?
Daisy: Obviously you are not in the same room. Talk. Get back to me.
We collide in the hall: both looking down at our phones. We look up at each other.
“Daisy…”, I say. “…invited us to dinner Friday”, Shaun says.
We talk at the same time: “I said no”. “I said yes”.
I am determined we’re not going: it’s too risky for Shaun, and she can’t eat anyway. Which is exactly why I find myself (with Shaun and Micah) on Daisy’s doorstep on Friday holding a large bowl of salad. I was out-stubborned. I think it’s a first in the History According to Jane. Lee Lee is at camp, and Micah was insistent that we needed a family night at Auntie Daisy’s.
Daisy texted a few times during the week: “Bella might come.” Later: “Alice is thinking about dropping by.” The day of the dinner: “Bella’s parents are going to come with barbecue.” A few hours before: “stop stressing. Shaun can lay down.”
She knows me too well.
Daisy conducts a tour of her new house, which I’ve seen (another story) but no one else has yet. I tag along for the camaraderie. Everyone stops on the stairs and stares at me. Shaun says “You’ve already seen it, let us have a turn!”. Bella says, “It’ll be pretty crowded up here.” Alice looks like she’d like to give me a very friendly push down the stairs.
Wow. They’re in a good mood. Daisy throws up her hands and says “Can’t you go toss the salad? Pour us some water? I need help getting ready.”
Oh. Okay. I tromp back down the stairs, perplexed by the already tossed salad, and filled water glasses. I move things around on the table. Micah grabs me and leads me back into the living room, (“I never met Bella’s parents” he whispers). Oh, duh. Help my kid with the conversation. What a moron. Bella’s parents are fabulous, and I enjoy their company. Mom and Dad are taking pictures of the house for Daisy, and we talk about life, horses, cameras, etc until the cranky crew comes back downstairs.
After helping ourselves to a truly wonderful dinner of burgers and potluck, we sit in the living room, eating and talking. I don’t notice that Bella is gone. The conversation stops suddenly, and all eyes turn to the right. Bella is standing near the bottom of the stairs, Daisy and Alice casually walk near.
“I have an announcement,” Bella says, “I finally found a good home for Hudson, and he’s sold!”
I plaster my best “that’s terrific” smile on my face. It IS terrific. Bella would only sell him to a good home, and I need to put my feelings of loss in a box, and be happy for them both. “It’s to a couple…”, Bella continues. I try not to frown. No. Surely she didn’t reconsider the couple with the two boys who want to learn to rope? No she wouldn’t, right? This is Bella.
“…one of whom has loved Hudson for a long time, and the other loves her”, she says.
I run the couples I know through my brain. I know her farrier’s girlfriend loves Hudson. That would be a great home. Maybe he’s going for a trail horse to one of the kazillion people Bella knows?
“I thought this might be hard for you”, Bella says, looking me in the eye. “So you should know who the new owner is. I did find the best possible home for him.”
I try harder to look happy. It’s so nice of her to even think in the terms that it would be a loss for me. How many people are that kind? I don’t have to try hard to look happy. I’m lucky to have friends like this.
Bella walks forward, holding something out.
“It’s YOU!” she says.
“What?” I say. I look down at the gorgeous, padded, dream-leather halter and lead I am now holding. It has an engraved nameplate: “Hudson” and my name.
“WHAT?!?” I say.
“I think you already said that.” Micah says drily.
“He’s yours”, Shaun says, “We bought him for you.” I stare at her. “Honey, Hudson is your horse. You have a horse.” I’m dumbfounded, clutching the halter as if it were Hudson himself. What? Hudson is mine? There must be a mistake.
Voices come at me from all angles: the dam breaking after months of conspiracy and silence. The explanations, the near misses, and descriptions pour forth. Shaun, Bella, Daisy, Alice and Elisabeth, the barn owner, have been working on this in various capacities for FIVE months.
Many things start to click. Bella, Daisy, and Alice had been…not distant…but awfully busy? Click: conversations stopping awkwardly when I walked up. Click: Shaun needing me out of the house while she made business calls. Click: Alice looking seriously stressed when I arrived unexpectedly at the barn one day while she was riding Hudson. Click: Shaun repeatedly asking for her checkbook in the hospital as she drifted in and out of a morphine haze, insisting she needed to balance to the bank. Click: Micah asking me repeatedly, “If you could have any horse at the barn, which one would it be?” (He hasn’t played that game with me in years.)
Bella did not get a raise that allowed her to keep Hudson. She got a call from Shaun investigating how much it would cost to keep a horse, and what was Hudson’s sale price.
Shaun, Bella, Daisy, and Elisabeth all helped Shaun understand the annual fees, semi-annual fees, and unexpected fees in great detail.
Shaun talked to the kids. “If we do this, if we buy mom a horse, that means you won’t be able to do XYZ like we have been. How do you feel about that?” The kids (this makes me cry) were immediately onboard, even after a couple of months of living without their extras. They chipped in their own money.
Sitting there, holding the halter, staring at the name plate, I was unable to say a word. Bella’s parents were there to take pictures of me graciously and happily accepting Hudson, jumping up and down, throwing myself around the room.
Instead, they got a zombie who’s jaw was permanently affixed to her chest. I looked like I have been stunned by a taser.
Finally, I’m able to squeak out a “thank you”, hug Shaun tight for a long time, squeeze Micah to a pulp, and text Lee Lee, who knew it was going to be tonight.
One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was NOT bolt from Daisy’s house to go hug my new horse.
It’s still sinking in, a little over a week later. Here’s Hudson, on his first day of our co-ownership. He is expressing his feelings to the max about having to get his picture taken at feeding time.