I have debated writing about this subject all month hence why I have waited until the very end of the month. As many of you may know September is Suicide Prevention month. Until two years ago I had been lucky to have never had a close friend or family take their own lives and then it happened.
My buddy was a great cowboy. We had attended Junior college together and had lots of adventures, laughs and i’m pretty sure that I shed a few tears on his shoulder a time or two. My favorite memory will always be when he was going to take my horse who was a colt at the time and swing up on him bareback when I was packing up my trailer. Well Trey had never been ridden bareback at that point in time and the only time that he had ever had someone run up to him, he was probably fixing to get a kick in the belly. I just happend to peak my head out at the perfect time to see him running towards Trey and jump and Trey jumped sideways and my buddy landed flat on his face. He was such a good sport he was laughing just as hard as I was when he got up and admitted he went from hero to zero in no time.
We spent lots of time in college talking about our shared love of a good bridle horse, high quality tack and our crazy collection of music that we would sing terribly at the top of our lungs. We knew every word of every Dave Stamey’s songs and then would switch from Cowpoke to Ice Ice Baby. We spent a lot of time working on our horses, his horse at the time was mocassin and he was one cool little bay horse. We would go years without talking after college but I always knew that when I had a bad day and I needed a friend to talk to I could give him a call and we could swap cowboying stories and I always felt better. He had moved north when I moved south but he was always just a call away.
He was a really good ranch bronc rider but with that he had rattled his brain pretty good and he wasn’t suppose to get on any more and stay off snaky horses but what cowboy gives up what they love and says no to a challange? He had spent time cowboying all over and was definately someone you would say was born a hundred years too late. He spent some time working in a feedlot and hated it. He was happiest riding up in the open spaces on a snaky colt chasing wild cows.
I will forever be haunted by the last time that I had talked to him. I was at a horse show and he had told me he was happy to hear I was still riding and showing the horse that had face planted him all those years ago. We swapped some cowboy stories that we had gained from the past few years since we had talked last and he had told me to tell my soon to be at that time hubby that he was a lucky man. He had also left me saying that he wanted to ask me something but now wasn’t the time. I didn’t think about it much at the time but after he took his life a few months later it has haunted me.
I have been and probably will always be haunted by what he wanted to ask and if maybe that would have made the difference. I know that suicide goes much deeper then me answering his question but I will always blame myself, that maybe I could have solved his problem and that’s one of the horrible things of suicide they leave everyone wishing that they had just done something different and maybe things would have worked out differently. If only they knew how much everyone wanted to help them out maybe they would have changed their mind.
Being a cowboy and or rancher is such a hard life and I hope that my story might help you to reach out and call that old cowboy friend to swap cowboy stories and check up on one another. Or maybe if your someone that is needing some help please reach out to your friends. I so wish that I could call my buddy up and share some of the crazy cowboying things that I have done lately like roping a huge longhorn bull or my crazy loop doctoring a weanling that I got on my first shot but I can’t do that anymore.
Cowboys tend to rattle their brain a little more then someone with at 9-5 job. They spend a lifetime loving and training horses and dogs that they spend more time with then people and those animals don’t live as long as we do. They get critized by people that don’t understand their living. They work countless hard hours barely scrapping by. Most of the work is done alone and can leave someone feeling alone and isolated.
I hope tho that if you are a cowboy or rancher you remember what Waddie Mitchell says “Like the scars on my knuckles, all there to remind, we can live through the pain.” So ya’ll go check on that buddy you haven’t heard from in awhile and swap some stories and if you need someone to talk to please talk to someone anyone I promise that they will be grateful help you out and have you around.
I’ll leave you with my buddies poem that is one of my favorites.