I grew up working in horse rescue. I started when I was 11, but really I don't really remember there being a time where I was not working in horse rescue. It has been an amazing and enlightening journey filled with such love and joy. With all of that love and joy, however, there is a heavy price.
It is not talked about often enough what it means to be in the rescue industry. Those of us in it do our best to make sure the general population sees the wonderful side of rescue while we silently carry the weight of it all. Rescue work is not for the faint of heart; rescue work is for those with a heart made for a battlefield.
Growing up in horse rescue, I learned about death from a young age. Before I was 18, death was a familiar face to me. I had learned that while it was never free of heartbreak, death was often the last kindness we could provide. At the same time, I learned how to manage death and all of the emotions that come with its passing. I learned that no matter how broken I might feel, there were others who needed me more than I needed to be broken. Some may not think its healthy (I'm still not sure if it is, but at this point I'm not sure I could do anything differently), but in the rescue world you are not allowed to break down when there are other lives depending upon you. It may lead us to seem cold or hard hearted when really it's the farthest from the truth. At the end of the day when there are no more little faces looking to you to fill their needs, that is when you are allowed to break down.
When you work in rescue, your heart has to be ready to open up and take in the broken and in needy with the strength of your love. Your heart has to be ready to put walls up around the sudden pain that comes during emergencies so that way you can continue to hold those in your care in the strong arms of your love. It is the heaviest silent weight of rescue work. It's the part that no one talks about or really prepares you for. It's loving with every breath you have while internalizing how badly you're breaking.
I wouldn't trade this job for the world. I've known for far too long that this was what I was meant to do. My heart was always meant to hold others in the safety of my love. There are days like today though, that I feel how heavy this weight is and I just want to share it a little bit by writing it down, putting the weight into these words and off of my shoulders.