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Remembering April

January 12, 2012

A young April (age 15) and Laura (age 24)

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.  

We are older now - April 33 and Laura 41

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   

Taken on April's 33rd birthday

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. Cheryl wilkinson permalink
    January 12, 2012 8:19 pm

    I cried too! What fantastic memories. Thanks for sharing.

    • January 12, 2012 8:55 pm

      Thank you for sharing in a little of my sorrow. I do have so many happy memories, and I know that they will soon outweigh the sad times.

  2. January 12, 2012 10:44 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. That seems so lame, but I have to say something, because to ignore this beautiful post and your pain wouldn’t be right.

    I love you for always reaching out to the Lord and finding your answers from Him, then sharing those answers with us. You are so encouraging, and I’m thankful I know you.

    May the Lord always be your ever present help when you have to face sorrow alone.

    • January 13, 2012 7:39 am

      Somehow, you managed to say just the right thing. Thank you!

  3. rachael hubbard permalink
    January 12, 2012 10:52 pm

    Isn’t amazing how animals wrap themselves around our hearts? May your cherished memories of your faithful companion cheer you as you mourn her loss. We can learn a great deal about friendship, loyalty, and love from God’s creatures. Sending prayers and warm thoughts in your direction. Lover, Rachael

    • January 13, 2012 7:44 am

      Rachael, yes, it is amazing what an impact animals can have on our lives. April is a huge part of who I am because she did teach me so much and because we were friends for almost my whole life. Thank you for your loving thoughts.

  4. January 13, 2012 8:32 am

    You described your memories with April so well. It makes me miss April too. Thank you for sharing your horse and your grieving process with us.

    • January 13, 2012 5:37 pm

      One of the nice things about being a writer is that our animals can live on in other people’s hearts too. We have a way to introduce them even after their gone.

  5. January 13, 2012 8:36 am

    Thank you for sharing your priceless memories with us, Laura, and for confirming the faithful love of God in your precious testimony. The pictures of you and April are so beautiful, and I am so blessed by your heart for God. My faith is strengthened as I see Him meet your needs. I love you, and I’m praying for you!

    • January 13, 2012 5:36 pm

      More and more I’m feeling the happy memories fill in the ache. God is good, and He shows His love in so many ways.

  6. January 13, 2012 4:37 pm

    What a beautiful post, Laura–and it brought tears for me, too. Thank you for sharing April with us, and for honestly wrestling through the questions and pain of being single while facing sorrow. That verse in Isaiah is lovely, too! Thank you for opening your heart and illuminating so many good points for us. May you continue to feel God’s tender love and presence during this time. I know what it feels like to grieve the loss of a dearly loved animal, so I’m with ya, sister! God bless.

    • January 13, 2012 5:35 pm

      Kim, thank you for your words of comfort. This experience has showed me how God wants to pour His love into us when we’re not expecting it. So many people have thrown their figurative arms around me.

  7. January 14, 2012 11:22 am

    I am crying for your loss and your gain at the same time! How is that possible? I don’t know but am SO glad you reached our to God during your time of need! He is always with us and will ALWAYS comfort us in times of need.
    I cannot say the pain will ever cease, but I CAN say it changes over time and gets a bit easier to bear. I know from experience not just with animal “family” but I lost my only sister senselessly in 1996 and took her children – then 4.5 years and 4 months old – adopted them and am raising them to the best of my ability. Her daughter is the image of her mother and a graduated last summer, just as her younger brother was getting ready to enter high school.
    God is good ALL the time!

    • January 14, 2012 1:54 pm

      I thank you for your heartfelt words. Although I miss my horse, I cannot imagine the grief that would result from losing a sibling. Praise God you were there to give your niece and nephew a stable and loving home in which to grow up and learn about a loving God. He is good all the time, and He also gave us memories to cherish.

  8. Carolyn Lueders permalink
    January 14, 2012 1:32 pm

    Oh, Laura, my heart is heavy as I think of your loss! April was such a dear friend. As I was recalling her last night, I remembered the time you and Laurie (and who knows who else) took a picnic horseback ride, including a container of Jell-o with whipped cream….that had turned to syrup with butter by the time the picnic site was reached. I have such sweet memories of times with you and April. Praying for your continued peace as you work through the grief and remember the happy times. (And remember, there are horses in heaven :-)…Rev. 19:14.)

    • January 14, 2012 1:59 pm

      Carolyn,

      Each day I feel less sad and am instead thankful for the memories I have. Part of what made losing her so hard was that April tied me/us to so many childhood memories. We did have good times didn’t we! I’m glad I’m a writer so I can record her stories; and maybe, just maybe she will live on in the pages of a book. 🙂

      Thank you for your kind condolences.

      Laura

  9. January 15, 2012 6:37 pm

    Laura, God is so tender. He comes with just the right word when even the closest friend’s words fall short. And He is always there to hold us–always. I’m sorry for your loss. What a sweet, sweet companion you had in April. One of the best Christmas gifts a girl could ever receive.

    Thanks for sharing your heart and the pictures of you with April through the years.

    • January 15, 2012 9:52 pm

      As I’ve gone through some big life dissapointments over the past couple of years, I’ve been overwhelmed by God’s love for me. I never understood before how much He feels our pain.

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