I didn’t mean to watch myself cry. It just happened while I was brushing my teeth, and I couldn’t look away. So I watched while tears built in my eyes and spilled out, and my lips parted to let air through because my nose was already swelling shut. I closed my eyes and leaned against the sink.
How am I ever going to fall asleep tonight? I asked myself.
I’d known this day would come for a long time, but I never wanted it to arrive. Almost, I could believe it never would, but it did as it surely must. Now, I felt old and tired as I said goodbye to one of the strongest links to my childhood.
Every Christmas day for almost as long as I can remember, I’ve snuck out to the horses’ stall and given April some special treats. Even when I grew up and moved away from home, I’d wait on Christmas day until the house full of family was busy. I’d slip out the back door of my parents’ home, and I’d find April standing in her stall. “Hello, my beautiful Christmas horse,” I’d whisper. With my head resting against her neck and breathing deeply of hay and fur, I traveled back 33 years to when I was 8.
I remembered Grandpa pounding on our back door and yelling “Christmas is here, Christmas is here.” Scrambling to put on shoes and coats, we tumbled out into the frostbitten air and watched a beautiful bay filly back out of a trailer. Her name was April, and she walked straight into my heart.
I recalled the years that followed: whooping and hollering as April and I galloped to the old chicken coop to release pretend prisoners, kneeling in the saddle as I crossed the river, racing against my brother’s old motorcycle, telling her my teenage secrets, missing her while I was at college, riding as her legs stretched out beneath me and we floated over the ground, and worrying for her while her babies were born. The memories were endless.
I opened my eyes and looked at myself in the mirror. You’ve known this was coming, Laura. You’ve known that you would eventually have to say goodbye to your horse. But knowing it was coming didn’t make my heart ache less. I felt overwhelming sadness, and the tears made a fresh rush on my face.
God, I feel all alone. There’s no one to hold my hand, to comfort me. Do you care that I’m all alone?
Being single during sorrow is agonizing, and a deeper more horrifying question was pushing its way through my current sorrow. Who will hold my hand on the awful day when I lose my parents?
I was serious, and I wasn’t really asking myself. I was asking God.
You have to make Me your all and all, was what pierced through my thoughts.
I sighed, That sounds very spiritual and nice, but honestly, how does one go about doing that? We’re human beings; we’re wired to need other people.
My honesty with God was a little frightening. I was telling Him that I didn’t see how He could comfort me when I wanted a human touch; so He made me think of POWs – far from home, alone and scared. The testimony of Christians who have experienced this horror is one of a dependency on God. Their lives become completely in tune with God because they have NOWHERE else to turn.
Stop trying to think of who you can call, and start asking Me to help you deal with the pain. I was surprised by how quickly the answer came.
So I did. I prayed and asked God for the peace He has promised, and He reminded me that I often find solace in writing. He is the one that has given me that emotional outlet. No one else can express what is in my heart – only me. So I wrote; and as the memories spilled out, I felt quietness replacing the storm in my mind. I opened my Bible and found a verse in Isaiah 51. God had made a reassuring promise to the exiles for their journey. “I, even I, am He who comforts you…” In II Corinthians we are told that God is the “God of all comfort.”
I did cry – not just a little more but a lot more; and while I cried, peace found its way to my heart. God showed me that He was enough and that He hasn’t left me alone. He also reminded me that although He wants me to depend on Him, He does place people in our lives to support us. Friends and family showed compassion while I wept my way through the nostalgia, and slowly the recollections of good times started replacing the awful emptiness.
Forever I will remember and love my beautiful horse. I will take joy in the memories of lazy rides on hot afternoons, of skimming the earth as I clung to her back in wild races, and of her head on my shoulder. Goodbye dear April. I loved you so much.
April 3, 1978 – January 9, 2012