It’s a few weeks short of a year since my beloved horse left his beautiful body behind. This means a year ago, I was having a lot of intimate conversations with him about his approaching journey, our impending separation, and how and where we could still be together-in our hearts. I let him know he would always live in my heart, and he let me know he would always be alive in my experiences and expressions of love, joy and beauty, adventure and companionship.
This last year has been one of deep grief for me. Though I honored my beautiful horse daily for the overwhelming happiness he brought me without fail, even when he was declining, I had no idea how large the gaping hole in my heart would be when he was gone. I spent the first 2 weeks after his passing writing about our last month together, but found it was too difficult to re-read it-even today. Then I began writing about the love story that was us. Even that became painful; salty tears of joy mixed with sadness rained upon my keyboard, leaving me with a list of topics that I am only slowly getting down on paper.
All this time though, Tiger has kept up his end of the deal. He keeps showing up.
A few days after his passing, I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment, and was blurry eyed, soggy with loss, and stunned with the images of his last day. As I slowed to a stop in traffic, my eyes focused on the license plate in front of me, and lifted me out of my numbness-it was a bright red Tesla bearing the plate “Tiger 2.”
Well ok then! I could hear Tiger saying to me “come on, you said….” As if that wasn’t enough of a jolt, when I got out of my car at the doctor’s office, there on the sidewalk in front of my car was a little sticker. I laughed out loud and held it like a diamond. This was the loyalty my horse had for me-and the humor we shared!
But it didn’t stop there. Over this last year, every time I drove out west to the ranch, I’d hear Tiger talking to me. “You said you would remember our fun times. Why are you so sad?” This is when I began to write the love stories. It felt good, but still, the loss of such a living touchstone was hard for me to translate through the veils of sadness, though they were thinning…
Last spring, my daughter took me to Ireland for my 60th birthday. As soon as we walked into the Dublin airport, my beautiful horse showed me once again that he was adhering to our agreement of staying connected. I nearly fell over when I saw the huge painting, probably 10×12 feet or larger, hanging above the lobby in Dublin. It was a living likeness of Tiger! How perfect, too, that this visit to Ireland embodied the qualities I loved about my time with Tiger: exploration, beauty, companionship, love, roots, nature…
As October turned to November, I could feel an echo in my body, resonating with the inner preparation I was doing this time last year, between Tiger and I. I gave myself full permission to fully feel this anniversary. Part of me hoped that this month would dissipate the crumbling wall of sadness in my heart to sand, so that I really could get on with the joy and love.
Last week was Thanksgiving. My daughter asked me to stay through the next day because they were going to pick out a Christmas tree. The thought of doing this with my 2 grandsons was new and exciting, and was an activity I hadn’t done for probably 50 years. Theo, at 3, knew about Christmas trees and was already excited to decorate it. Baby Miles, at almost 4 months, wouldn’t know what we were doing, but to accompany him during this threshold holiday seemed like the right thing.
We pulled into a small local nursery and entered their maze of Christmas trees. All shapes and sizes, all species, and all of them with nametags on them, which seemed kind of funny to me. At first, I thought the nametags meant someone had claimed them already, but upon noticing that every tree had a tag, my own browsing became more focused.
My daughter wanted a certain kind of tree. Her husband wasn’t totally convinced, but agreed to “have an open mind.” I made my way through the maze, row by row. My eyes landed on a tree I thought might be the perfect compromise. I called the family over and said “hey, check this one out! I think you all will like this one.” They all emerged through the curtains of green and almost in unison ooohed and ahhhed and agreed it was the one. I said “I’ll go find someone who works here to pull it out for us” and disappeared through the branches.
At that moment, I heard my daughter gasp and say in breathless astonishment “Oh my God! Mom! Did you see what this tree’s name is?” I hadn’t even seen a tag on that tree, but assuming it must be one of their names, I walked back to take a look. My daughter looked me full in the face at me and turned the tag. My heart burst open with uncontained joyous wonder.
“My Name is Tiger.”
Here he was, making another shape-shifting gesture to me. This one, about the inexplicable mystery of such moments, of giving, of togetherness, all the good things I promised Tiger I would remember. Thank you, sweet Spirit Horse, for reminding me of the enduring manifestation of love beyond space and time. May we be connected always!