Een week of twee geleden werd ik ‘s avonds gebeld, of ik het paard van deze jonge dame op de foto kon zetten. Normaalgesproken is dat geen enkele probleem, maar dit keer was het anders: dit zou een soort afscheidseries worden, al vind ik het best erg om het zo te verwoorden. Afschied nemen van familie en vrienden hoort bij het leven- dat weten we allemaal heel goed bij voorbaat, maar het doet toch weinig om het verdriet te verzachten wanneer het zover is. Als ik gevraagd wordt om ‘te helpen’ door wat foto’s te maken, dan natuurlijk wil ik graag doen wat ik kan om het last wat lichter te maken waar het mogelijk is.
Joyce heeft heeft dit paard al jaren vanaf haar 14e verzorgd. Door een ongeneeslijke been aandoening, blijkt er niets meer in het behandelingstraject te doen voor Starco maar pijnstillers steeds toe te dienen. Een erg moeilijke keuze moest gemaakt worden en Starco zal binnen een paar weken geeuthaniseerd worden. Maar niet voordat er nog even genoten kan worden van de liefdevolle vriendschap tussen Joyce en Starco.
By special request in English:
One evening a couple weeks ago, I received a phone call from a young lady with the request of photographing her horse, Starco, who (yes, I am consciously using ‘who’ here) has been suffering from an debilitating leg illness. Joyce told me that she’s had Starco since she was just 14 and the last several years have been hard on him as far as his health went. There were times that he would just lie on the ground and couldn’t stand up due to the pain in his legs and therefore required painkillers to relieve to discomfort. Starco is now 21 years old and there comes a point when we’re faced with the dreadful dilemma of sparing our loved ones from suffering, even when it means having to say good-bye. For most, it is an unbearable thought, but when all other alternatives fail, then we need to do what is best for them no matter how much it will hurt to let them go over the Rainbow Bridge.
Joyce has had to make this decision for Starco an I can only imagine how heavy this weighs in on her heart. When I was asked to do a portrait shoot of Starco and learned the circumstances, I felt awfully sorry that I could ONLY make photographs and not make the rest better. That really frustrated me. We made an appointment to meet up at a recreational area close by and that was the first time I saw Joyce and Starco.
I went into this assignment without any preconceived ideas. I thought I would just take it one step at a time and see how it went. I had made a number of images of Starco by himself, but being how I am, I was missing the emotional bond between him and Joyce that got us here in the first place. Then I decided to get Joyce in the picture and let them tell their own story. It was that simple.
Afterwards, when I was working through the results, something odd struck me. I had been asked to photograph a horse while I normally photograph ‘love’ or people who feel love toward one another. In the end, I believe- correction- I KNOW there’s as much love present in these photographs than in the photographs that I would make at a wedding of a pair of newlyweds. I didn’t quite expect that going into this, but I am very, very grateful that it worked out this way.
Starco will be crossing the Rainbow Bridge in two weeks time. I have no doubt that the tears will be many and the sadness great, but I hope that the photographs below will help to remind her how much her Starco was loved and appreciated.