Tag Archives: Measure of a Life

WHO’S DRIVING THE BUS?

The wheels on the bus go round and round. The people on the bus go up and down.   But, does anyone know …article-2154929-1376A9CD000005DC-502_634x350

WHO IS DRIVING THE BUS?

If I can lay my thoughts down on a page, placing the words just right, perhaps they will tell the story that will help me better understand who I am, and who I am not.

Last week, frustrated during meditation when I couldn’t seem to quiet my thoughts around some particular office drama, I realized when my time was up and I opened my eyes that I had simply been sitting for twenty minutes “thinking with my eyes closed!” With a deep sigh, I concluded that I was still a work in progress, alas, “a mere human” when it came to being addicted to my thoughts, stories and the act of thinking.    How was this possible when I had worked so hard to remember to be present in the moment and in my body?  Was I simply a “Talking Head”?  As Trump would tweet, “FAKE MEDITATION…SO SAD!”

None of us were born “Talking Heads”. In the beginning, we were awakened into an altered state of reality, consciousness seemingly stuffed into a physical body.   After being squished into existence through a tight dark tunnel and landing in these huge slipper hands; we were slapped on the ass and welcomed into this three dimensional mish-mash of existence we call life on Gaia.  Imagine being confined in a small physical existence when we were used to soaring freely through the jungles of space and time as omnificent creator.

When we were babies, until we were around five years old, emotion was our first and only language. Since we couldn’t form thoughts without a language to support these thoughts, we floated around on a cloud of feelings from the surrounding emotional atmosphere.  We had our first taste from the smorgasbord of emotion as early on as the womb.  These feelings were those of our mother; but we adopted them as if they were our own.  They most likely were a “mixed bag of treats” including love, excitement, anxiety, shame and/or fear.  With no way to employ our own special reptilian skills for survival, we had to rely solely on these emotions to tell us when something was wrong, such as there was a lion in the bush or a prehistoric Pterodactyl circling overhead.  A lot of good that would do, however, when helpless, we couldn’t even roll up in our blankets to hide from view.

Slowly, with the waning guidance and support of our friends and guardians from the other side, we got used to the giant “Talking Heads” that were all around us.   Before long we learned we could wrap these big folks around our little baby fingers; and they would come running –most of the time- when we cried. Dependent, we didn’t know who they were; but they seemed to be the only ones who would arrive to help us survive in these new body-vehicles we were test-driving.  On the other hand, they could cause major body damage if they dropped us or shook us to hard; not to mention they could also squash us like a bug if one of them accidentally stepped on us.

As toddlers we were off and running; motoring through life every waking hour.   Each day, we connected and disconnected somewhere around three million neuro-pathways and synapses as we alternately crashed and burned our way through time and space.  We were developing new skills of survival and learning what did and did not work with these new little special buses called physical bodies.  When we got hurt, pooped our pants or were hungry, we cried.  Hopefully, one of the “Talking Heads” would come running to our rescue.   Sometimes these big people would stick their big heads in our face and cooing, put kisses on us with their big lips.  They’d tickle us and then laugh when we laughed, snapping endless pictures so they’d never forget how darned cute we were in their own image.  Subsequently, they also tried to convince their friends and family that we were something special by posting these pictures in cyber space for all the world to see.

Now, I like everyone else, have a very personal and selective memory of my youth. I’d like to preface the following by saying that I realize that we adopt “our story” making it absolute truth when in actuality, it is a story we created initially, oftentimes with the mind of a child, based on very little fact in deed.  Whew, that was a mouth-full.  Most of us then live and relive our story, creating and re-creating people and outcomes over time that will actualize what we believe to be true; that is until we can recognize our stories as just that, “a story”.  At that point, walah, we may then be capable of extracting the truth from our story and alchemizing any past suffering.

Now I’m at a turning point,  I can choose whether to write “The End” or I can continue to share my story in spite of the fact that I know most of it is conjecture.  Although, because I started a story that like a dangling participle didn’t even make it through all of the conflict, introduce the characters, or even enjoy a climax, or resolution, I don’t feel complete.  Thus, please stay tuned for Part II of Who’s Driving the Bus.sign

To be continued…

 

FLYING HOME

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWi0HhZqykE

One of my dreams and goals is to create a platform for the purpose of being able to offer a remembrance, a gift of Legacy to others.  I feel it would be meaningful to be able to assist with helping a family sift through the pictures, keepsakes and memories of their lives to find their own very special Legacy; and in doing so, perhaps help them to see the gifts they brought to others.  I believe that everyone needs to be heard and to understand the impact and measure of their life.  Most of us want to know that our caring and love mattered.

My father, a very young eighty-six, looks to be closer to sixty.  Still enjoying riding motorcycles around the country, he says, “if you can’t do what you’re passionate about, why be here?”  This week he is facing a fairly serious surgery, which is why this subject came up today.  My father has always known that I believe stories need to be remembered and told so that we may know why we came and who we are within the experiences of our life.  Dad has always loved telling his stories and especially enjoys reading them over and over whenever I get around to writing them.  In the past couple of years, however, I’ve noticed that his storytelling has taken on a tone of desperateness.  He becomes visually frustrated when family members dismiss him with, “yeah, I’ve heard this one a few times now.”  I imagine this is common for aging people and certainly doesn’t make them feel important or heard.  I’ve been on both sides of this now that my own son reminds me from time to time that I have already told him “this or that”.

One night about a year ago, my father and I were having a midnight chat.  I was sharing things I had learned from talking with people who had Near Death Experiences and gave him a book to read that was written by one of these intrepid survivors.  He was noticeably relieved after reading the book.  I was surprised when he started to reveal different stories; ones I personally hadn’t heard before.  How was this possible with me being the question person?  These stories were raw in the telling; and I was able to detect some underlying fear about dying.   He made the comment, “well, I don’t suppose you know where you’re going when you’ve killed people.”  In shock I said, “What are you saying Dad?  Have you killed people?”  “Well, not exactly,” he admitted to my relief.  He then went on to share about the atrocities of war, in his case, the Korean War.  Raised in a traditional religious philosophy where hell’s fires was a real place, my father seemed to harbor fears of uncertainty as eldership quickly approached.  Even though I don’t personally believe in hell, per se, I can see hell on Earth most days on the news.

My father was just twenty one when he was drafted into the Marines; but oddly, he never talked much about it.  I was still being wheeled around in a baby carriage in the few pictures I saw of our new life in North Carolina at the Marine Base. I love the picture of mom holding my hands so that I could stand in the waves of the ocean.  My mother who was deathly afraid of water, ironically always dreamt of living by a lake, river or the beach. Even though she remembers those days as some of her best, even she didn’t reveal any real stories about their life there.  That night, as we sat sharing our thoughts about  life, it became clear that Dad was proud of how quickly he had been promoted through the ranks to Sargent.  It was important to him that I understand that this was not common.  He seemed to be flattered and laughed as he shared that his fellow marines called him, “The Wildman” even though I feel sure I have not yet heard that entire story.

I feel privileged that my father finally felt like he could open up to reveal the stories of what it was like to be so young with a new wife and a baby; and to be suddenly faced with the horror of killing or being killed.  He said that it was not that rare to lose fellow Marines during training maneuvers, and disclosed racial in-discrepancies that were difficult to imagine.  These were things I had never even thought about.  Unfortunately, the ravages of war are not unfamiliar even today to so many others in the world.

I watched the movie “Sully” last night.  Within the first few lyrics of the Theme song, the profundity of the words was a straight shot to my heart.  Since the time when my son passed, I have chased the mystery and the meaning of life, purpose and our roles in each other’s lives around in my mind and heart for a decade.  The lyrics for the song “Flying Home” were profound in their meaning to me.  I believe they say it all and I wanted to share my thoughts about Legacy with other’s who just may need to hear the words to this song today.  I hope you’ll take a moment to really listen. I have added Flying Home to Chad’s Playlist.

FLYING HOME by Tierney Sutton Band

Theme Song for the Movie “Sully”

TELL ME YOUR STORY, I’LL TELL YOU MINE

SING ME YOUR SONG, I’LL FOLLOW LINE BY LINE

DRAW ME NEAR, LET ME HEAR THE THINGS YOU’VE TREASURED

PATIENT AS FALLING SNOW

STANDING INSIDE THE QUESTIONS

ONLY GUESSING BY WHAT TRUTHS OUR SOULS ARE MEASURED

EACH OF US RISING FROM WORLDS UNKNOWN

WITHIN YOUR TRIUMPHS I SEE MY OWN

STILL THERE ARE JOURNEYS THAT ARE YOUR’S ALONE

YOU WERE BORN FOR THE STORM YOU HAVE TO WEATHER

TRUE AS A WINTER WIND YOU FACE THE MOMENT BRAVELY

YOU AND I, WE’RE ON OUR OWN AND YET TOGETHER

WALKING A PATH WE CAN’T DEFINE

TELL ME YOUR STORY. I’LL TELL YOU MINE

SING ME YOUR SONG, I’LL FOLLOW LINE BY LINE

LET THE NIGHT FALL WITH THE LIGHTNESS OF A FEATHER

TRUSTING THE COMING DAWN

WE CANNOT HOLD THE MORNING

YOU AND I WE’RE ON OUR OWN AND YET TOGETHER

FOR IN THE END, WE’RE ALL FLYING HOME

THE GOLDEN EGG- Conclusion

golden-egg

I had dinner with a very strongly opinionated local French girl who had a near death experience.  She said, “you probably meditate all wrong”.  My ego reacted with self righteous indignation, “how dare she!”  I explained, politely for the most part,  that she was obviously full of shit because I had learned from the best of the best.  And, every day for years I did this routine…20 minutes, incense and candles, emptying my mind..blah blah blah.  She said you’re just chasing the good feelings, the light (well, who wouldn’t want to do that, that’s the point, right?); but what about really feeling the dark shadow side?”  (These are my words, not her exact words).  

I’m thinking, where you focus is what your reality becomes.  Where your energy level is, is the place from which you create your thoughts, emotions, your projections, your reality.   Well, they say, when you’re ready, the teacher appears.  I seem to have a flock of them, dropping out of the sky, showing up at the end of my driveway or from behind the barn.  I pay attention to some of them right away and others….maybe I have an “Aha” moment a year or two later.

…For example, a year ago, I met this stranger on an airplane.  He referred a book to me that had some “aha” things that I felt were important for me to know at this time. Ironically, a year ago I was not yet at this point, which is probably why I carried his note around for months, even losing it from time to time.   Only recently had I become intrigued with examining Big Love, to find my version of the “Golden Egg”. 

I found the referred book to be all Quantum and combined Eastern and Western Philosophies.  It spoke more specifically to the interplay of light and darkness, and other dualities that cause chaos within ourselves and in our Universe….

The book that Airplane guy wrote down for me was “The Science and Practice of Humility” by Jason Gregory.  It turns out that Jason is a teacher and international speaker specializing in the fields of Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, metaphysics, and ancient cultures, studying the masters in Buddhism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Hinduism, and Taoism and produced the Sacred Sound of Creation.”  I have gathered and would like to share some concepts as I understood them, as well as excerpts from his book.  I found it all quite interesting and believe it to be my next stepping stone in my search for “Big Love.”

Jason Gregory says, “The mind is like a paint brush and the world we see is our canvas.  Mental alchemy is the art of manifestation, which is not as simple as thinking glorious thoughts.  Throughout the ages these teachings have given rise to the illusion that we can create our own reality by just focusing on what we want.  That is only an attempt to gain something in the material world to boost and perpetuate the ego.  It maintains the illusion of separation.  A mental projection coming from the ego won’t be what we truly want or need.  Such delusions will not result in the manifestation of our conscious projections.  In such a case attention will not be focused in one place, and there will be no force behind it to become a reality.  Those who attempt to create their own reality from the egotistical side of their psyche are no better than those who are not aware that they create their own reality.  Both are contributing to a collective projection of chaos and entropy because their mental states are not focused in one direction.”

The core of our spiritual awareness is to know that the universe is not separate from us but we are joined as one living, breathing conscious organism.  If we are the eyes of the universe, we see that all of the war and discord on one level is actually harmony on a higher level.  The chaos is necessary and is the rhythm of the eternal harmony.

                     ALCHEMY AND THE PHYSICAL PLANE

Physical Relationship Relative to Subatomic Particles:

Most of our problems throughout the cosmos originate from our not understanding how subatomically our world is connected to our thoughts and emotions.  “Subatomic particles are controlled by the mental plane of consciousness, which creates the physical world.”  Thus we create the reality we experience, every moment of it.  We are distracted by ego, which focuses on the inauthentic “love and light” and wants only to experience pleasant realities.

Physical Projection and Mental Alchemy::

If we can understand the energetic world, we will begin to understand why certain situations and events cross our paths.  Soon we will gain a deeper knowing and intuition.  The physical world is only energy driven and shaped from the mental plane by the energy of the mind.  Magnetic opposites, the physical and mental planes exist under a universal law that allows one to flow to the other.

“Physical matter is condensed energy formed and created by the force of the mind.  The wisdom traditions of eternity know we create our own reality…..focusing their energy on the mental plane toward conscious manifestation, they created an ancient science known as ‘mental alchemy.’  Alchemy is the science of turning mental thoughts into golden projections upon the physical world or, in other words, turning the lead of the ego into gold.”

To find out who you are, you can use the art of mental alchemy  by exploring your consciousness to discover the things that are natural to your inner being.  “Then your energy will naturally flow toward that passion and then your art will be expressed on the physical plane – hence you create your own reality.  One of the main goals in mental alchemy is exactly this discover of one’s purpose, which leads one down the path toward deeper realization of the true self that unfolds like a flower.”

EGO AND CHOAS

Focusing on Love and Light is not the answer:

He says,  that individuals who believe they are creating their own reality by just focusing on ‘love and light’ while ignoring our darker aspects of being, are contributing to the disruption and chaos. “The result of ignorance within our being is that the subatomic world we create manifests as the physical world in a perpetual state of war.  This stimulates a deep fear of all life, which maintains the illusion of separation.  War is nothing more than a symptom of an individual’s conditional psyche projected into the physical plane.”

Duality and the price we pay in our search for Pleasure only:

We are focused on the illusion, as human beings, of being separate.  This breeds fear but fear is not the enemy.  Fear can be a guide to become more humble.  We do not want to feel fear or pain, so we control that instinct by seeking pleasure.  This is a control based on duality and denies that the existence of both pain and pleasure are not really separate feelings.  Pain can only exist because we know pleasure and vice versus.

If we truly knew this and were able to genuinely embrace both, then we would not be gripped by fear and pain.  When we identify with pleasure, we then cling to it, trying to hold on; but this only contributes to a form of suffering.  In actuality, the moment we seek to hold on, we have lost the pleasure of being in that moment of pleasure.  We become so attuned to the false ego that this creates the disharmonic state of mankind.

Healing Chaos:

We want to believe that the chaos of the world –such as political, social, or religious–can be rectified leading us to our next evolutionary step.  Evolution is dependent upon the growth of the individual and not the order of a society.  Dwelling within the body-mind state of consciousness, we are trying to heal a chaotic world with a chaotic mind.  When we believe they we are the identity of ego, we believe in separation.  Separation is the seed of chaos.   The flaw exists in all of us and our world is a reflection of that.

SEPARATION FROM EACH OTHER AND GAIA

Most of us do not understand that we are part of Earth, not separate from it.  That belief is apparent today more than ever as we challenge, insult and destroy our planet, our home, thinking of it as a place to live without truly knowing that it is ‘conscious intelligence’.  Ego is a manufactured mental program that operates within most sentient beings, keeping the physical plane in a state of chaos. We see the planet in a narrow form and don’t see ourselves as an integral part of a grand planetary unfoldment.   “Ego is the ultimate extension of a planetary system’s sensitivity” but cannot see that the universe is constantly unfolding.  Nothing begins and nothing ends. It just changes.

We accept the illusion that the source of the universe and eternity are found outside of our consciousness in the external world.  This includes socially accepted slavery through transactions to obtain what we call money.  This makes us even more separate in what often appears to be a dog eat dog world.

Duality and Ego Transcendence:

“The duality existing within the mental framework is built on the premise that there is the false ego and the true self.  The problem with this view is the fact that the ego does not exist.  Many people who tread the path of spiritual cultivation make a common mistake in this view of their own mental framework-after identifying the ego chattering within their head, they set out to battle against it.  Some arrogantly set off to transcend the mind, not realizing that nothing is more egotistic than that.”

To transcend the mind, we must empty our mind in order to reestablish connection with the spiritual plane.  This is the only space where duality no longer exists and opposites within and without dissolve.

Separation and Conflict:

“Humility allows the universe to be what it is, looking upon it with the same clarity as the child who sees the world with no boundaries. As the dance of chaos continues, the humble individual is unfazed, as they do not doubt their own experience.  The idea that the world needs to be saved is a conditional opinion, based on our fears and anxieties, which feed our ego.  The opinion of one is the opposite of another, which fuels conflict.”

SO WHAT ABOUT BIG LOVE?

It’s Bigger than carnal Love:

Throughout the ages, a collective parasite has infected us with the illusion that carnal love is real love.” Believing that our animal drives are love suppresses the evolution of consciousness.”  True Love is limitless and sexual desire is a distant cousin which only ties us to the animal kingdom.

Conditional vs. Unconditional Love:

“Loving an individual or some object is conditioned by ideas and opinions about how the other and object should be”.  This is not the attuned and receptive nature of the universe, thus it cannot be humility or love.  “What love truly is cannot be experienced unless one is humbly receptive to all experience.”  When we finally truthfully realize that love is unconditional, and not bound by the limitations of our judgments, only then can we let go of the common conceptual idea of love.  In the great work of eternity, if we can truly let love go, then our real love will become present. False love is also a symptom of the illusion that the great work of eternity is in the external world.”

Every person who I’ve met that has experienced a “Near Death Experience” or every NDE’r who’s book I have read, talks about the profound understanding that all of us are connected and how they can suddenly telepathically understand everyone else.

Jason says, “One of the resulting insights into consciousness is that even though individuals appear separate from all life in the physical plane, we are more intrinsically interwoven into the fabric of matter than we can imagine.  In this pure seeing we can gain knowledge that we are not only an integral part of the cosmos, but are in truth the eyes and the ears of the cosmos and planet Earth.”

From Lao-tzu’s eternal scripture the Tao Te Ching, on Duality

When people see some things as beautiful,

other things become ugly.

When people see some things as good,

other things become bad.

Being and no-being create each other.

Difficult and easy support each other.

Long and Short define each other.

High and low depend on each other.

Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master

acts without doing anything

and teaches without saying anything.

Things arise and she lets them come;

things disappear and she lets them go.

She has but doesn’t possess,

acts but don’t expect.

When her work is done, she forgets it.

That is why it lasts forever. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE DILEMNA OF BEING HUMAN

This is the  screensaver that I ignore every day when I turn on my computer.  Surprisingly, today I saw it through different eyes.  I’m sharing this because MAYBE I’m not the only one that needed a little wake up call or a gentle reminder before it’s too late.

Dalai-Lama-quote.jpg

I remember waiting in line at Starbucks one day a few years ago shortly after my son had died.  A Colorado man who was in his final stages of cancer wrote a book that was displayed for sale at that local Starbucks.  At the same time my son died, I had just lost three of my closest friends, two who had died of cancer.   I wanted to know what this man was thinking and going through; so I bought the book.

The author started out talking about the company he had built from the ground up and proceeded to give detail upon detail of how he had made it successful.  While I would expect that, especially of anyone who had tied their value to their accomplishments, I was shocked when the entire book, other than one chapter was all about what he had accomplished in his career.   This man relegated one token chapter to the introduction of his lovely wife and children as if he felt they deserved being mentioned.  With a flourish, he then finished his book with his legacy, his company.  I felt sorry for him.  He had all the money in the world but he couldn’t save himself from himself.

Most of us probably weave our loved ones in and out of the different chapters of our lives.  We are the lucky ones.  What is the measure of a life?  I’m sure for some it is being a big movie star, a rock star, a President or famous author like Hemingway.  That would be awesome, coming here to experience that.  Many times there is a huge price for that fame and glamour as told in their stories or evidenced by movies about their lives.  And, what about the rest of us?  If we are a “nobody” in our own eyes, was our life a failure?  A lost cause?  Will anyone even care if we lived or died?  I’ve always had a dream to write Legacy Stories for others.  When I asked, I can’t tell you how many people said humbly that they didn’t have anything important to write about.  So, I’m asking you, what matters or is important to you about your life?

I believe at the end of the day, every one of us yearns to know the measure of our life.  We want to know that our life mattered in some small or huge way to someone, that it was worthwhile.  We want to believe that we will be missed and remembered when we are gone.

What if there is nothing to do but just be fully invested in each moment of your life, seeing and living it like an innocent child full of wonder?  Watching it unfold through the Omnificent Observer instead of the eyes of Ego?  What if the only reason you came here was to experience you being you?

A VIEW FROM THE EDGE-Epilogue

dean-potter

The Rest of the Story

Chad’s body was discovered by a couple of hikers from California who were lost.  I will always be grateful to them and appreciate so much the price they paid so that I might one day seek peace in my life once more.  It was clear that Chad didn’t wish for anyone to find him as he had hidden his truck and managed to find a place so remote it would take the police two days to be able to recover his body.

Months later I would find a typed message on my home computer that simply said, “Death before Dishonor to my Family,” six words that spoke volumes. Always the spontaneous one, Chad was not much of a consequential thinker.  Knowing my son, it may not have occurred to him that spending the rest of our lives looking for him would have been a living hell; he just didn’t want anyone to have to find his body. At the same time, learning your son had killed himself gave hell a whole new meaning. Even now, I still have dreams of him driving up with that big ole grin on his face. I go wild with every emotion imaginable. Waking up is the hard part; and you realize your life is the nightmare.

Chad became a man the day he took care of things his way. He didn’t show us any signs of his intention. In retrospect, I still cannot fathom how he could have felt that things were that bad, unfixable, unbearable and hopeless; that he didn’t have anyone he felt he could reach out to. I did understand it a year and a half later, however, when I took a walk in his shoes. This experience would become one of my greatest gifts, an insight that would set me free.

My physical, spiritual and emotional recovery has provided me with so many insights.  I realize that everyone must find their own truth in their own way. Maybe, just maybe, we don’t all have to learn every insight the hard way like I did.  Because writing has become the salve that heals my wounds; I write and I share. For some reason, I feel passionate about sharing our story so that perhaps others may not have to feel so alone and isolated in their own story. 

EYE1

From my Point of View

A View from the Edge is the story of the worst day of my life. For years I peered anxiously from that edge where my son had lived precariously most of his life. While I admired that he never drank from the cup of mediocrity, I now see that view a bit differently than before. I will continue to write, and share (in parts) concerning a few circumstances that I believe significantly contributed to that day, the day that Chad hung himself.

That day was like the Perfect Storm, and like a Perfect Storm, it took just the right elements all descending down upon him at once. Tragedy isn’t always some random event that as (bad) luck would have it, just happens one day. It’s as if the Cosmic Tumblers clicked into place and nothing could stop the momentum already in place, that would become Chad’s Destiny, and ours. Like waves that ripple across a still lake, devastation would reach out to touch all of us who loved him so much.

Today, these same waves continue to ripple through the lives of people all over the world who, for whatever reason, happen across my website. Maybe they are people who are “Sensitives” (ADD, ADHD, Bipolar, Dyslexic, Autistic etc.), unable to express themselves or to feel heard. They may have feelings of being all alone in their world and/or hopeless or apathetic about their lives. Perhaps they too became addicted or heard the voice of Demons. Or maybe they are a parent worried sick about their child. Maybe they can’t understand why their loved one hates the flat line feeling of the pharmaceutical prescribed drugs and they have no idea what their options may be. In some small or huge way, my hindsight awareness just may be able to change their view or the outcome of their own story.

There is still so much pain in the world and with these kids who are being born as “Sensitives” in increasing numbers. We are missing the mark in so many ways with archaic systems and beliefs. My hope is for a major Paradigm shift that I believe can happen, if only because of our great love for our children.

As John Lennon sang, “Imagine!”

imagesVF4HKG5A

 

 

SILHOUETTE ON THE EDGE

 stock-footage-silhouette-man-silhouette-a-man-standing-on-the-edge-of-a-cliff-with-their-hands-up 

With a sharp inhale

Spirit breathed in your first breath

I hugged you tight as you cried out in my arms

All shiny new, pink and wrinkled

Your Quantum flesh suit was far too large

Yet infinitely too small to contain you

For you were always bigger than life

In this foreign land of ours

 

One of a myriad of Indigos

You were an intrepid way-shower of light

You would sing the songs of many voices

And hear silence in Van Gogh’s Starry Night

Standing so close you could touch it

You saw through the ethereal veil

You painted its picture for us to see

God’s love, a love that would prevail

 

Fearlessly, you lived on the Edge

A destiny you would not survive

It exhilarated and beckoned to you

It was the place where you felt most alive

And as you inhaled the view of your life

Precariously you walked its fine line

 

Younger, you once saw yourself in a dream

A silhouette teetering alone on the edge

The voice of Demons snarled your name

Caught between illusions of life and death

Life as you knew it crumbled, then shattered

As your silhouette took one last step

The step you couldn’t take back

As your shadow slipped from the ledge

 

On spinning wheels of sacred truth

You wove threads of Loneliness and Connection

Hand in hand you walked with bliss and agony

An Empath, you felt everyone’s emotions

So young, so many Lovers, so many Strangers

Who you will never meet

Yet your story survives, and you live on

 In a Legacy you can’t supersede

 

The Devil thrusts forth his greedy claw

Vulnerability and suffering has its price

Shame overwhelms the Hero

And you make the ultimate sacrifice

Sometimes strength is too much to bear

You wrote “Death before Dishonor”

As you reached deep to pay your due share

 

Spirit would once more come

 To intercept your final breath

You were so young, alone and scared

As you stepped trembling from that ledge

 Flying felt a little like falling at first

But on Elliptical wings you would soar

Diving and gliding on the thermals

Winds of Change carried you home once more

 

And for me, I’m left sifting through the ashes

Tracing through lifetimes for human truth

Revelers in the face of duality,

Always thirsty for something new

Lusting for delicious ambiguity

We hear Maya’s melodic call anew

 

This life will end for all us one day,

Hopefully, we gave it our best

It gave us everything we believed we deserved

When we go, what will we leave it?

What is the measure of the gift of life

In-between the two breaths of Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

About a Horse

Espresso for Expresso

∪♥Espresso for Espresso♥∪

I bought her on an impulse, an afterthought really. She wasn’t on the website or really even for sale, for that matter.  Her name was ‘Hot Coco’.  Timid and a little high strung, it wouldn’t be long before she became known as ‘Espresso’, a name that more aptly fit her personality and style, and at the same time resonated with my coffee addiction.  She was a bay with two white socks and a cute little white snip on her nose.  Her eyes were deep and kind.  When I whispered to the wiry old Mexican wrangler, “Which one of these horses is your favorite to ride?” without hesitation he pointed to her.  She was standing docilely in a dirt pen under a shade tree.  He said, “I’d take her above all the rest”.   Squinting into the sun, I frowned at the thought of owning another mare.  She was half dozing while swishing flies with her long, black tail; and I noted that she was not nearly as pretty as the others.  “Why?”  I asked the hired hand.  He replied simply, “Because she has heart.”

She was a leggy eight year old Tennessee Walker in the prime of her life. Her shiny coat was as dark and rich as her new name implied.  Later I learned that, unlike the other horses, she wasn’t registered.   Therefore, I was able to purchase her for a good deal less than Blaze, the Kentucky Mountain horse that I had travelled all the way to Santa Fe to pick up.   “I’m sure it was just a fluke,” I thought as I recalled that she was the horse that had stumbled and fallen all the way to her knees the first day that I rode her.   “With a bit of luck she will be a shining star rather than a star gazer,” I thought, amused.  Even though, she had fallen into my hands quite accidentally from the heavens that day, it would not be the first or the last time I would see her fall.

Autumn announced itself suddenly that year as do most seasons in the high Rocky Mountains.  Hot days coupled with unseasonably clear, cold nights that dipped near freezing, resulted in a much earlier fall than usual. It just so happened that it was also one of the most beautiful I could remember.  The high desert landscape was accented with golden yarrow, silver tasseled sage and bouquets of delicate purple asters strewn among the pinion pines.   The extreme temperature swings not only presented autumn in all its glory but also brought distress to the horses in the mountain valleys.

My new mare was a timid soul and even though she wasn’t perfect, she didn’t have a mean bone in her body. She may not have been beautiful at first sight but before long I absolutely fell in love with simply watching her move as she proudly pranced beside Blaze. Her gait was fast and she was high stepping, able to cover twice the ground that Blaze could without breaking her stride.  While Blaze, on the other hand, was lazy and broke all the rules; he was definitely more attuned to rougher terrain then she.  Oftentimes, as she pranced along beside us so magnificently I thought, surely in a former life, this horse belonged to a debutante living in the grandeur of one of the Southern plantations.  Just about the time that thought crossed my mind, she would have a little misstep and stumble.  Almost embarrassed for her, I’d smile and shake my head thinking that one of those southern debutants, riding side saddle in all her finery, just might have ended up in a mud puddle when she least expected it.

Blaze was Espresso’s only pasture mate. He was a ‘proud cut’ gelding, meaning he remained a stallion longer than is usual for stock that wouldn’t be bred.  With some of the remaining temperament and independence of a stallion, therefore, he forever bullied her as the only member of his herd.  Even though they became kindred spirits, being in a herd seemed more important to her then it was to him.  Instinctually a creature of the wind, her wide set eyes allowed her extensive peripheral vision as is critical for most prey animals. Oftentimes while grazing in the stillness of the dawn or evening, I would catch her suddenly lifting her head to quickly scan the pasture until she located him before lowering her head to safely graze once more.

I was never afraid to put a beginner on Espresso’s back because she had proven that she would take good care of them.  She was the smoothest horse I’ve ever ridden, which provided even a novice with confidence in their ability to ride.  One day my roommate who knew nothing of the secret ways of horses decided to ride off in the opposite direction from Blaze and me. It’s always a good practice to ask horses to go in different directions even though it’s against their herd ‘fight or flight’ survival instinct.  What my roommate didn’t know was that giving Espresso permission to run flat out to catch up with us once more wasn’t that great of an idea.  When they came to a fork in the path, he assumed they would go right as she continued on the straight and narrow path that curved slightly to the left.  Luckily he knew how to roll and looking much like desert tumbleweed, he finally sprawled to a stop, unhurt.  Instead of continuing on her mission to catch up with Blaze, which I would have totally expected of any horse, Espresso stopped in her tracks and putting her head down, nuzzled him as if to say, “What happened? What are you doing down there?”

Espresso wasn’t quite as gentle with my American bulldog, Tess, however. Of course, Bulldogs, bred for Bull-baiting and aggression, are physically resilient and stubbornly persistent most of the time.  When I wasn’t watching, Tess loved to terrorize the horses any time that they ran by, taking up the chase.  Espresso’s prey instinct was as highly attuned as was Tess’s predator instinct.  I noticed that while Tess seemed to be in it for the fun, however, my mare was genuinely threatened by the dog.   More than once when I called Tess back, Espresso would indignantly spin on her hind legs, rearing up, front legs slashing, mane unfurling in the wind.  Then with a warning squeal, she’d strike out with her front legs at lightning speed or spinning around, nip at Tess with deadly accuracy.  Luckily Tess was fast and generally escaped any consequence that is with the exception of the time she made the mistake of nipping at Espresso’s heels while I was in the saddle.   I heard a loud thhhwwwaack!  When I turned to see what had caused the sound, what I saw was my bulldog shaking her great block head slightly.  Just like in the cartoons, I imagine she was seeing little birdies circling before her eyes.   Nonetheless, it appeared that she had withstood the impact of the perfectly aimed hoof without consequence or even a whimper, for that matter.

One of the first things I did routinely each morning was peek out of the upstairs windows until I could spot the horses in the pasture below, making sure everything was kosher. On this particular September morning I spotted Espresso in the early light of dawn.  She was lying down alone; and Blaze, her pasture mate, was nowhere to be seen.  A horse lying down during the night or in the chill of early morning was totally out of character.  My heart skipped a beat.   I threw on my clothes from the night before, and half dressed, raced the short distance to the pasture.  When she saw me coming down the bank of the irrigation ditch, she struggled to her feet and for a brief moment of relief I thought she might be alright.  My relief was short lived, however.  With a squeal she suddenly fell back to the ground rolling onto her back.  I was terrified.  Had she broken a leg?  Unable to keep my eyes off her, I slipped on a thin layer of ice as I ran across a make shift bridge causing me to nearly plunge into the icy irrigation water.   Upon reaching Espresso’s side, she stretched her long legs out in front of her; and with a groan, she made a valiant effort to once more clamber to her feet.

Oftentimes late at night from my open window, I would hear the big irrigation pump when it switched on above the irrigation vault. As the big rain bird sprinklers suddenly popped up there could be heard a hissing sound as they released trapped air and water.  This was quickly followed by the rhythmic tick, tick, ticking of the spinning heads.  Gaited horses seemed to be much spookier than the more reliable quarter horses that I had been accustomed to.  Inevitably, at the first click when the pump switched on, I could expect to simultaneously hear the sudden sound of thundering hooves as the panicked horses raced across the pasture for the protection of the barn.  As they neared safety from the perceived monsters chasing them, I could expect to hear one last big splash as they crossed the wide ditch.  I could then go back to sleep knowing they would be in the paddock for the next several hours.  It was this nightly ritual and my awareness of the distress these sprinklers caused the horses that made my heart freeze when I first spotted my mare that morning. As I neared her and saw water dripping from her long mane, I knew that she must have been rendered completely helpless and terrified, hostage to the huge sprinklers in the early morning light.  When I reached her she was absolutely drenched and shaking uncontrollably.  Clearly unable to escape her biggest terror told me what I didn’t want to know; this was very serious.

I ran back for a lead rope and slowly coaxed Espresso to the barn, drying her off and quickly blanketing her in the sun so that she could recover from any hypothermia that was most likely racking her body. The next two days were a blur of vet calls, sleepless nights, IV’s and tubing fluids into Espresso’s stomach.  Espresso had colicked, which generally offers a fifty-fifty chance of survival at best.  In fact, the vet told me that oddly, just that week, five horses had colicked in the valley with only two survivors.  Horses really need to drink a lot of water to push the massive amount of grass and hay through their digestive systems.  Perhaps it had something to do with becoming dehydrated during the hot days and not drinking enough water when the nights and the drinking water were extremely cold.  Maybe it was just coincidence or bad luck.

My neighbors were amazing. Even though the vets have changed their theory about not letting colicky horses lie down, I stubbornly tried to maintain the procedures that had always worked in the past. For the first day and night we took turns walking and watching Espresso in shifts, diligently trying to keep her on her feet as much as possible in an effort to dissolve or dislodge the obstruction somewhere in her delicate GI tract.  It was believed that with the extreme discomfort of a big gas bubble, a horse would roll in an effort to relieve the excruciating pain. In doing so, there was always a risk that they could twist their gut, closing off a portion of their delicate digestive system.  Nonetheless, I remained hopeful based on my experience with my old lifelong best Quarter horse, a red dun named Salty Punk.  Salt had survived colic at least seven times that I was aware of, and most likely others that I had not been home to witness.  We coaxed Espresso to drink and offered her anything that might awaken her nonfunctioning system.  She was not interested.  The fact that she was able to eventually eliminate some of the grass that had remained inside her system, made my spirits soar.  When I placed my ear to her belly listening for the ordinary gurgles indicative of a healthy gut; however, the only sounds I heard were those of her labored breathing.

Over the long two days, as she continued to fight, there were some good signs and bad signs. As time marched on, the bad began to outweigh the good. Nonetheless, there was no doubt for any of us who vigilantly cared for her that she was putting up a valiant fight to stay here.  She was uncharacteristically tolerant of all of the intrusive procedures being routinely performed and of our urgent demands that she walk when she was in so much discomfort.  Usually walking beside Espresso as she pranced along was intimidating as her thudding hooves, like huge bowling balls, pounded the soil within inches of my cowboy boots.   For this reason I always felt far more secure on her back.  Now, in obedience, however, it was everything she had to simply follow us.  On reluctant hooves, she lagged behind at the very end of the lead rope.  Sometimes she would stop and lay down on the soft sandy trail within mere yards of my gate.   She gave her best to comply with our demands and wishes.  I wanted to believe that instinctively she knew we were trying to help her. She was an honest horse and I felt privileged to be by her side as she went through her many transitions even though it was a roller coaster of hope and heartbreak.

Quietly stroking her coat, already growing softer with the colder nights, I stood by her most of the day and checked on her a couple of times the second night, giving her a pain killer every few hours. It was with words of encouragement that I feel certain were more for me than for her, that I would assure her that she was going to be alright. I hoped that if I stayed positive and calm, she would sense my energy as she always did.  Yet, there were times that tears slipped from my eyes and I’m sure echoes of despair vibrated through my energy.  I praised her for how beautiful, honest and kind she was. I even told her the entire story of why I changed her name from Hot Cocoa to Espresso. After all, I was a storyteller and there was no one there during the darkness of the night to hear except her.

“It was a beautiful summer morning when you first arrived at the ranch”, I began. “It was such a long ride in the trailer for you.  But I think you guys thought it was worth it because you were no longer stuck in dirt pens eating hay.   You were fat and happy eating high sucrose rich mountain grass.  You could race around the pasture, feeling the warm sun on your backs and the wind in your manes.   One day you needed new shoes.  The Ferrier arrived early and I slept in late.   I had to quickly whistle you guys up.  But I didn’t have time to make my morning cappuccino. Argh! Not good!   Without coffee, I would have had no patience standing at the end of a lead rope for an hour.  Jesse got all of his equipment set up.  Just then Mike came out of the house and I begged him to make me a cup of coffee.  With a cappuccino in hand, I was happy and talking to Jesse.  Of course Tess and Maggie showed up on the scene, sniffing around for your hoof trimmings.  When I yelled at them to go back to the house, they just circled around and slunk  back in to grab another piece and hightail it out of there.  You know how they loved your stinky feet”, I told her with a smile.   “Without fail, I knew that they would puke hooves on my carpet the next morning. But they weren’t the only sneaky ones, Missy!  While I was distracted by the dogs, you were checking out my coffee.  You didn’t even jiggle my sleeve or the cup in my hand.  You probably smelled the sweet sugar sprinkled on the top of the cream.  I was just about to take a sip when I saw your long tongue all the way to the bottom of my coffee cup.  Yuk!  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I laughed but was somewhat horrified.  Your tongue was green, you know, from eating grass.  I guess you liked the taste of the coffee.  I knew then that Espresso was the perfect name for you.  I also knew I was SOL because you killed my coffee buzz!”  In my exhaustion, I almost expected her to smile at my story and then realized I needed sleep more than I knew.

Nature itself, glorious and miraculous in blossom and birth, can be equally as cruel and heartless. For the better part of two days, I kept Blaze in the barn next to Espresso’s stall. They could touch as they leaned over the stall doors to nuzzle and nip at each other.  While he was much more independent in nature, she was fairly herd sour and became tense when he wasn’t nearby. He was the salve that kept her calm and she desperately needed to stay calm.  Normally, the two of them shared a large stall that was twelve feet deep and twenty four feet wide.  On the same day that Espresso had colicked, I had allowed Blaze to come and go from the big stall where she was tied as we worked on her.   I noticed that in one instant, for no particular reason, he was acting uncustomarily aggressive towards her.  In disbelief, I watched him back right up to her and start kicking her unmercifully when she couldn’t get away.  This act caused me to reflect once again on survival of the fittest and how cruel the nature of survival in the wild could be at times.  Or in its own way, was it the kindest path in the end?  I’d watched horses for years push other horses off their feed.  Blaze had become pretty decent with Espresso over time, only pushing her nose out of the hay rack initially until he had a little hay in his belly.  Before I understood how instinct worked, I would always try to control the situation and sometimes felt anger towards the survivors of the herd, always highest on the ‘pecking order’.  I had to wonder if perhaps since my gelding was proud cut, it was an act of instinct to run her from the rest of the herd, or even further wounding her, leave her incapable of following the herd?  Any wounded or sick animal would inevitably jeopardize the health of the rest, leaving them more vulnerable by attracting predators.

On the second afternoon, the vet had just stopped by and pumped more fluids into the Espresso’s stomach and added IV treatment to hydrate her further. She seemed calmer, which we couldn’t determine as either a good or bad sign at this point.   What we did know is that something needed to happen soon, very soon.  I took the opportunity to turn Blaze out for a while to graze on the pasture while my son and I, running behind on our fall projects, began painting a fence nearby.  Espresso, usually nervous, to say the least, whenever she and Blaze were separated, whinnied faintly and trotted the short distance from the barn to a small hillside where she could overlook the pasture.   After circling once, with a groan, she lay down clearly exhausted now after two full days of fighting for her life.  A wide white bandage to keep the IV site clean was wrapped around her neck.  In the sun, the white bandage lay stark against her black coat as she lay atop the hillside, watching her beloved mate grazing ravenously below.  Eventually, Espresso began to even doze sleepily as her recently injected pain killer began to take effect.  She dropped her nose to the ground and only occasionally would I see her lift her head to check for Blaze’s whereabouts.

I had not slept much in two nights and not at all during the last two days; or was it three now? I was not only irritable from lack of sleep but I knew that this was it; time was slipping away.  If Espresso couldn’t make some real come back and soon, any tissues that had not been able to be nourished were surely already starting to die.  The vet had reassured me that she would know when ‘that’ time had come and I trusted her.  Ironically, just as I had about run out of hope, Espresso had shown an interest in eating for the first time since she became sick.  Even though, that wasn’t a good idea, the gesture gave me a little much needed hope and I held on for life.

The next time I looked up on the hillside to see how Espresso was doing, I noticed that my bulldog, Tess, normally rambunctious, pushing boundaries and running around causing trouble, inexplicably had chosen to lie next to Espresso. I found that behavior as odd as Blaze trying to kick Espresso the day before.  Not understanding, and in a thick mind fog, all I could think about was that Tess was lying in the dirt, causing me to become irritated at the prospect of having to give her a bath.  It would be the one more thing I had to do that night when I barely had the energy to give myself one. I called Tess; and she came towards me until I looked away.  The moment I took my attention from her, she circled back around and this time lay even closer to Espresso’s head.  I turned a few moments later just in time to see her outstretched face reaching to lick the horse’s velvety nose.  I was amazed at this unlikely instantaneous friendship.  In hindsight my animals had known instinctually what I refused to accept; my beloved mare was slipping away and there was nothing any of us could do to stop it.

That night, I gave Espresso a shot and hugging her, I sobbed against her neck. I felt like we were being stalked by time and tomorrow would be the day we could no longer put off the inevitable decision.   She would have a few hours of pain relief and should be alright until morning.  I fell into bed and into a deep sleep immediately.  I had only been asleep for two and a half hours when for no reason, oddly, I woke up.  I looked at the clock and with a groan, rolled over knowing that she shouldn’t be in pain for a couple more hours.  I wrestled against my will power and then with a sigh got up, knowing I couldn’t go back to sleep without at least taking a quick peek in the barn.  Unfortunately, when I opened the door I could see that she was definitely in pain and pacing back and forth along the length of the stall.  I caught her and she seemed to quiet down as I gave her some Butte paste to hold her over until the next shot.

Espresso edged to the stall door that adjoined the next stall and nickered at Blaze. I stood there for a few moments petting her soft neck and talking in a quiet voice, resigned that this would be her last night.  Suddenly her eyes widened bigger than I’ve ever seen a horses eyes before.   When she flared her nostrils that shown crimson, I prepared to jump back, fully expecting her to bolt, spin around or in some manner take flight.  I had never seen that look before on a horse and assumed it was fear.  What could have so suddenly frightened her in the quiet of the night?  Oddly, she didn’t bolt.  She just stood there quietly in place staring as if she had seen God himself walk into the barn.

Maybe it was fear or confusion or even pain. But something strange happened in that moment and I would never understand for sure what it was.   I ran to the house to get my phone and call the vet.  I told her that something weird was going on and described the pacing, and the way she reacted as if she had seen something.  Sylvia said, “Do you want me to come tonight?”  I said “yes, please.  I think it’s time, Sylvia.  You decide but I don’t think I can bear to watch her go through this anymore.”

I ran back to the barn and found her in the middle of the stall with her head down as fluids poured from her nose and mouth. Knowing that horses aren’t capable of regurgitation, my heart shattered into a million pieces on the spot.  I put a lead rope on her and tried to urge her out of the stall.  It had to be instinct because I was unable to think clearly.  I just know that in that moment I felt small and helpless.  I was simply a girl with her horse and I had no idea or experience that could tell me what to do.  Sylvia was there within minutes.  She quickly peeked in the stall and I told her about the fluid.  She looked at me and I searched her eyes.  I knew before she said it.  “I’ll get the injection.  She added, I think her stomach may have ruptured”.  She went the few feet to her truck and returned within seconds but we were already too late.

She grabbed the lead rope and said, “Open the back door. Let’s get her outside”.  I tried desperately to get the damned door open, cursing at whoever had so efficiently tied it shut to make certain Blaze didn’t gain entry.  My fingers were useless against the tightened knot and in my state of frozen panic, I became totally powerless.  In the meantime, Sylvia was trying to coax my dying horse through the inner door of the stall into the indoor walkway.  I heard a crash and turned just in time to see Espresso’s head hit the wall nearly pinning Sylvia there.  Espresso legs were akimbo as she desperately tried to regain control.  With a horrifying scream that would curdle your blood, it was over.  She was gone by the time she hit the floor.

Death came brutally as it so often does to all life on this planet. It is the lucky few that simply die in their sleep.  While I had suffered much loss, I had not witnessed death and in shock I wandered back to the house.  As I lay in bed, the terrible last moments played over and over in my mind like a scratched disc.  I was thankful that death had come swiftly in her last moments.  I couldn’t help wondering what it was that woke me up that night at that exact time; and why against all odds, I actually crawled out of bed to check on her since I had just checked her less than three hours before.  I felt blessed that Sylvia immediately answered her phone and that I had asked her to come even though I felt guilty for dragging her out here at 3 AM.  The timing for her arrival was nothing short of miraculous in itself.  Without Sylvia’s quick assessment of the situation, I would never have expected what was coming and how fast it could happen.  I could very easily have been pinned beneath the dead weight of Espresso’s one thousand pound body with no one at home to find me.  I was grateful that I had not witnessed it alone.  Although finding her in the morning would have been shocking, it would have been easier if I had not heard that scream or seen her fall to the ground for the last time.  Even so, I was so very glad that I had been there with her in her final moments to offer whatever comfort I could by my presence so she didn’t have to die all alone as my son had.  No one should have to die alone.  Maybe it really wouldn’t have mattered to Espresso, but maybe it did.

I like to think that perhaps when her eyes became so wild, she was finally and suddenly released from a tremendous pain. I’ve never seen a horse’s eyes look like that before.  I’ve seen fear.  I’ve seen pure panic.  I’ve seen frustration; but I have never seen this look before.   She didn’t seem afraid and Espresso was so often afraid.  I never asked Sylvia what she thought.  Either way, I don’t believe there is irrefutable evidence so there was no point asking science for an answer. I like to think that maybe some presence does come for us before the death of our body to take our spirit home.   I had met so many people in the past few years that had near death experiences (NDE’s) and they all told of the great connection between all of us and everything within this creation, even plants.  Sylvia asked if I’d like to keep a piece of Espresso’s mane and I nodded through my tears.   With adept and experienced fingers, she quickly braided it and tied it with a purple ribbon that looks beautiful against the shiny hair that was black as night.  Today her braided mane marks the page of her story in my journal.

The next morning when I got up, Tess was nowhere to be found. I made my way to the barn even though it was the last place I wanted to go.  I was shocked to find Tess there, peering under the stall door just inches from Espresso’s lifeless body.  Her face said it all. I have heard about dogs that are able to actually detect cancer.  And, of course I knew that my dogs could read my moods, as could my horses.  I had even watched the behavior of the stray cat that my mother had rescued from starvation, change markedly in the last year.  The kitty now rarely left mom’s side as the confusion and loneliness of dementia darkened her life.  How could I have missed the empathic bond; the connection that all my animals had with each other and to me? I have been reading about how all of us and all things are connected for the past few years.  I noticed how odd it was when Tess lay next to Espresso on the hill, yet I just didn’t get it.  Now I do.

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I was overwhelmed by the gracious help offered by a small gathering of neighbors and friends who came to help day and night; offering food and comfort as they took turns helping with Espresso.  As an act of friendship to someone going through a rough time, a neighbor down the road whom I had never before met, came to recover Espresso’s body and place it in its final resting place high on the hillside overlooking the pasture.   It is rare that we hear about these people; good neighbors, and friends when we turn on the news at night.  Perhaps that is why we have lost our way; our faith in mankind.   This became my “aha” moment; my gift in the tragedy, and I deeply realized the empathic resonance of divine connection on a purely experiential level that will forever change everything about the way I view things.

Not having any idea what to do with myself the next day, I took Blaze for a ride and together we commiserated in our loss.  He knew, instinctually. He plodded unenthusiastically along the dirt trail where he had energetically traveled by Espresso’s side so many times before.  A high ridge ran parallel to our riding path. The red, tan and gray soils provided a rich blanket beneath clumps of sparse grass and the dark twisted trunks of the Juniper trees.   Blaze suddenly stopped in his tracks and looked up at the ridge; his eyes widening with excitement and nostrils flaring.   As he whinnied, calling out to her, his belly quivered beneath the saddle. My gaze followed his and I swear, I saw her too, standing on the high ridge proudly looking down at us.

As I squinted into the brilliant light of the autumn sun, my sleep deprived brain took a snapshot of the hillside covered with wheat colored reeds waving ever so slightly in the warm breeze.  It was such a beautiful vision of sage, its tassels reflecting luminescent silver against the glittering gold yarrow; the bluest of blue Colorado skies its backdrop.  In my mind’s eye, I could see her galloping along the ridge, her black coat shimmering, mane and tail streaming behind her in the wind.   Spirit had painted me a picture, her parting gift.  She was in deed a magnificent creature of the wind.  The lovely vision comforted me and I whispered, “you’re free now, girl; free to run with the wind.  You are a kind and gentle spirit.”

Grieving another loss had given me yet another opportunity to cleanse layers of pain and guilt that I had been stuffing the past few years.  Not that long ago, I equated being tough as a strength.  For the first time in a long time, I felt the flicker of a very tender flame reigniting deep within my broken heart.  It’s as if precious life was welcoming me back from the walking dead.

Our inherent partner at birth, death will always be our most profound teacher, and life the intimate dance with each other in-between.  A reader might say “it was just horse”; but to those of you who have felt the unconditional love and connection of an animal, you will understand.  Perhaps she was just a horse but she brought gifts to my life, even in her passing and I’ll forever miss her!

Blaze and Espresso