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A State of Grace

Mystico and Laddie altar


We prepared for June 7th, the day when our beloved horses, Mystico and Laddie would cross the rainbow bridge. After twenty-three years of being stewards to our animal family and helping twenty-seven of them cross over, this was the first time we had set a date this far in advance for that to happen.

We had one last week to share with them. We set aside all unnecessary tasks of life and spent as much time with them as was possible. It was a surreal experience to go about our usual chores of feeding and care while the awareness that we were preparing for them to embark upon their soul’s journey never left our hands and our hearts.

I began to unburden myself from the angst of what we had been through together. Whenever my mind would stray to anxious anticipation, especially upon going to sleep, or in awakening, I would wrap my troubled thoughts and fearful pictures in gentle bubbles, asking them hover just outside my awareness. This time was too precious to be disrupted by disquiet.

The continued physical signs of their health struggles confirmed my resolve that this was their time. Even though I was still active in my care giving role, I could feel my energy shifting into palliative care, rather than struggling for progress. My daily prayer became, “please, let us get through these last few days with ease.”

Blessedly, that is what happened. As each imbalance presented itself, I had all the support I needed from my holistic vet and energy practitioners, and remedies that helped them overcome discomforts to enjoy the pleasures that remained. Rod and I offering them sweet treats they had not been allowed to eat for years, and filling their beds with even more soft shavings. The days were blessedly warm, so even though Mystico was in a stall, the sun slanted in to warm him and the breezes tugged at his soft mane. The nights were calm and quiet. Somehow, somehow… we were in the presence of grace. As I typed this, my computer highlighted the word presence and defined it as attendance and dignity. This is how it felt, both in them, and in us.

Rod and I found ourselves resting too. For the first time we felt the relief of releasing the constant oversight of their health care so we had more time to just sit and be with the horses. Just loving them. It had been so long since we had been able to in-joy that kind of time. The chores, errands, and constant vigilance had become integrated into the daily pattern of our life, from our waking until collapsing into bed. Love had become synonymous with caretaking. Now, we were experiencing a time capsule glimpse of the past when life with our horses, (and goats and llamas) was a happy routine, when much of the time they took care of themselves on our beautiful land, because they were living as horses naturally live; happily grazing and supported by us and the land.

Our seven horses ~ 2009

Both horses ate heartily, in fact it was remarkable that Mystico seemed to have a focused goal of eating as much mash and hay as his body could hold. He would lay down to rest his damaged feet for an hour or two at a time, often eating while laying down. Then he would rise again. He couldn’t walk more than a few feet, and his heart rate was high from the effort, but he persevered. Laddie too, was determined in his eating, and though I had to be cautious with his measured meals, he exhibited an appetite that seemed astonishing given where he had been in his recovery from pneumonia just a couple of weeks before. Though my mind wanted to convince me that these were signs of a zest for life, I felt this rallying was rather a confirmation that they were gathering strength for their soul’s journeys.

Messages from Mystico and Laddie

I received comforting communications from several clairvoyant readers. All of them assured me that the horses were completely in agreement that they wanted to go together, and they were relieved that we had received and respected their choices.

Andrea had said the horses were ready whenever I was, and she invited me to trust my intuition. She said I would know when I would know, and then there would be no more questions. At the time she told me that, the horses seemed so vitally alive and not in a dying process, that I couldn’t fathom reaching that clarity, but just a few days later, here it was.

Diane helped me understand that their perception of their health was perceived as challenges rather than tragedy. There was no angst or feelings of regret. This time of their divine existence had been manifested in their unwavering determination to take in all life had to offer. They expressed only gratitude for the gifts of the experiences which had enabled them to heal on every level, rather than merely the physical. My interpretation of any limitations and suffering was, to them, a misconception. She said both of them had accessed profound learning because of their physical challenges. In the process they had become Bodhisattva, ascended masters dedicated to their awakening while still in a physical body.

Part of Tracy’s message translated from Mystico was:

“You gave it your all to help me. You went above and beyond. and I understand the toll this took on you. I relished the time we had as this ending approached. It's bittersweet. My heart wishes I could stay but there's no going back from where I am right now. It's been an interesting struggle, but worth every moment. My soul growth is exponential to the hard times. This lifetime was a lot about grace for me. I found the perfect partner in you to walk this path with. I'm so grateful to you.

Laddie agreed,

“Better to go together than be here alone. I have friends and family on the other side to greet me. It will be ok. We will try to lighten your "sad" burden. There has been much loss and it's very hard to stay on the planet sometimes. I'll be sad to leave but also relieved - no pain. I will love you ‘til the end of time my friend. Thank you.”

Laddie also requested that Tracy teach me about a *Chakra Reversal she does to assist the body in releasing before death. The fact that he would know this was one of her skills was one more meaningful confirmation.

Sharing the love

The other passages in my life of losing loved ones had been more of a process of isolation than connection for me. In 2000, the aftermath of my mother's death after years of dementia in a nursing home I hadn't known how to have a celebration of life event, and my father's death in 2012 had been sudden and I had suffered a heart attack days before his memorial. So this time I decided I wanted to share my feelings not only with close friends and family, but also publicly on my blog and on Facebook. It is in my nature as a creative to draw and write to share my feelings, but this was the first time I’d had the luxury of time to put words to my emotions and experiences. Being a part of such a strong community of like minded and spiritual horse lovers I felt I could express all of the many levels of my feelings and insights. It was comforting to receive so many genuine responses and condolences, and the stories of love that poured out from the hearts of kindred spirits all over the world. Being able to express my feelings and being supported by others allowed me to cry the tears in advance. In the process I was able to continue to release any resistance to the journey that was unfolding.

Friends asked to say goodbye to the horses. Our farrier Lisa, who had been with us through the many years of Mystico’s hoof care, came to share stories and horse hugs, smiles and tears, and a beautiful snowdrop tree. Our friend Susan came to meditate with the horses and offer Reiki. Sandy came to remind Mystico and Laddie that their dancing lessons were just beginning. We felt blessed that the horses had brought these beautiful people into our lives, and knew those heartfelt connections would continue.

I decided to have my photographer friend Bonnie come to take pictures. Usually at the end stage of life photos are difficult because appearances are compromised by age or illness. But both Laddie and Mystico looked and seemed physically and energetically stronger than they had even a few months or a few weeks before. Being photographed with them allowed me to see with my own eyes, the beauty of our inner and outer selves. It was a gift to my future self, who I knew would look at these photos for years to come, as a record of the endurance and love we had experienced in transcending limitation.

Laddie ~ "To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites"

Mystico's transcendent beauty

Mystico taught me resilience and courage

The Message from the Owl

On Sunday June 4th, a barred owl had appeared to us for the first time in years I knew Owl was a and such a powerful guide of transitions. My dear friend Kimbra has a special kinship with owls in her intuitive work, and at 3:30 am Wednesday morning the owl spirit awakened her with this message:

Message from Owl, Mystico, and Laddie:

The crossing is a celebration as their souls are complete. The healing of their spirits was completed through the physical challenges they faced. In other lives there was abuse and neglect. The love and commitment from the heart-to-heart connection from Kim and Rod filled the void from previous trauma.

Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate. Have a party because our lives were full and we lived a life of peace-more than most. We had it all. Our journey here is done. Our work will continue in our story. We want a story to be written with a beautiful picture. More people will be healed and inspired as a result.

We choose to go together. We don’t want you to feel a burden or concern. This is meant to be a perfect ending to a perfect life with Kim and Rod. Be at Peace. The owl’s wings will take us there.

Kim and Laddie ~ walking a familiar path one last time

Darma’s Spirit Visit

The night before I asked our spirit mare Darma, who had blazed the trail to the rainbow bridge last October, to give us a sign that she was present with us. As Mystico ate and rested, several times he stopped chewing and became absolutely still as he looked towards Darma's stall. I was in such an unfocused space of perception I didn't remark on what he might be looking at, other than to wonder if he was sensing some presence. It wasn't until hours later when I went to bed at midnight, that I realized Darma had answered my prayer.

A State of Grace

When I awoke that morning. I was surprised how gentle the awakening was. The time was at hand, but instead of feeling dread, I felt completely calm. I was grateful we had one more blessedly beautiful day to spend with the horses. I put my anticipation to the side. The routine kept me focused. Time had somehow slowed down, and every action seemed like an age.

I noticed that both horses were enjoying their food, but they didn’t seem as voracious. They both wanted to rest. After breakfast, even Laddie laid down to sleep in his stall which he rarely did in the morning.

My friend Heidi arrived with a welcome lunch for us as we had forgotten to eat. She also brought lovingly prepared treats for the horses, including gently cooked mashed carrots and apples for Laddie’s soft food. We sat near the stalls and watched the horses eat. We talked of her aging dog’s needs, and of love and loss. We received the comfort of shared grief.

My friend Sandra called from her travels and told me she had spent the day walking through the garden in Buckinghamshire, England, where John Newton wrote the hymn Amazing Grace in 1772. She had spent the afternoon with intention, and had received a beautiful sign from the angels in the form of two white feathers, one big, one little, in anticipation of our horse’s taking flight.

Amazing Grace from Sandra traveling in England

Other friends reached out to say they, and their horses, and their angels and guides, were all holding space for the horses to have a gentle transition. We were all being held by human hearts and angel wings.

Sandy and Bill's prayer vigil

The vet arrived late in the afternoon. It was all too soon yet I didn’t feel there was anything left unsaid, unfelt, or undone. I brought Laddie into Mystico’s stall for one last physical connection. I explained what was about to transpire, and told Laddie that Mystico would lead the way.

Thankfully I knew the vet well and trusted their skill and care. Our dear friend Mara, horse masseuse and plant whisperer for many years, had offered to assist as she is our vet’s assistant. In her gentle hands, Mystico laid aside his resistance to touch during the last two years of struggle. He became calm and engaged. The pace was slowed to allow us time to prepare.

Rod stood close by, holding Laddie’s halter. I gave Laddie a bowl of the apple mash while the vet prepared Mystico. A few moments passed as Mystico was easing into sedation, and at that moment Laddie abruptly rattled his bowl asking for more treats. This brought smiles all around. I gave Laddie the last of the apples and he gobbled them down. I had to leave it to Laddie to break the seriousness of the moment. He was going to enjoy every bite of the last flavors of life, and remind us that all of this was as natural as it could be.

The only way I can describe the moments that followed is, oddly, by relating my wedding day in 2006. Rod and I had spent eleven happy years together, so I thought the event would be a simple celebration of what we already had. I hadn’t counted on the occasion, the beautiful tradition of being bonded, indelibly, with my loved one in front of other loved ones. It was profound, beautiful, and full, and all of it was somehow managed even though I couldn’t feel my feet on the ground.

Now, instead of looking forward to a life together, I was saying goodbye, yet it had the same profound and heightened sense of ceremony. I was both fully present in myself, but also witnessing myself. I felt an infinite connection to Mystico’s heart, and to Laddie’s. I saw myself through Mara’s eyes, the vet and her assistant, and mostly through Rod’s. Our glances spoke volumes. As we said fare thee well, to the spirits of our animal children and guides, their bodies folded, and the vet artfully helped them lay down like tired puppets relieved of the strings that animated them.

After twenty-three years and so much stress and pain around caregiving, crisis, and death, for the first time I was able to be fully present and not overwhelmed with emotion. After the vet left, we moved about the stalls reverently, talking softly as if they were merely sleeping, while knowing their spirits had taken flight into the great mystery. The burial was planned for the next day, so we had adequate time to just be with them.

Guides and Guardians

Later I went down to the barn to cover the horses in beautiful shrouds. To light a candle for them and Darma, and for all the beautiful beings who have shared our lives here at SkyeLandeSea. I felt we were being held in a sacred state of grace that I had never known before. Our two wild bucks, Frodo and Spar, appeared. They accepted apples, but mostly they were there to browse close by the stalls and areas they didn’t normally linger. They knew, and accepted the change. The presence of death did not deter them.

Hopi our miracle doe arrived offering a gentle hello. Then a hummingbird flew right up to me and hovered at heart height. I felt surrounded by the embrace of our wild kin. They seemed to be saying, death can be a release, and not a tragedy. Life goes on. An ending can be a new beginning.

A candle light of love

Watching through the night

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