Well fanci that…
It was the beginning of February and Fort Collins was hit with a massive cold streak where the temperature at night was around -20 F. The next morning, the temperature was still below zero, when Jonny was taking Ollie for a quick walk outside. He came back from the walk, brought Ollie inside and said that he heard a woman screaming bloody murder in the fields behind us and he was going to go check it out. I quickly threw on my winter gear and followed him outside. As soon as I got outside I could hear a woman crying and screaming hysterically – it was the kind of noise that someone makes only when they have lost something that they love passionately. It was scary, sobering, drenched in pain, and incredibly bone-chilling. I’ve never heard so much audible grief come from one person before. As we followed the sound of the wails down the path, I looked ahead of us into a pasture across the frozen river that separated our backyard from the pasture and saw this large white lump lying in the middle of the pasture. As I strained my eyes to see better I quickly realized that the lump was the majestic white horse that used to graze there, and I put two and two together and understood that the wails were coming from the horse’s owner. As we got closer to the woman, we yelled out over the frozen river to see if we could help her, she responded back “No, the horse is dead, there is nothing more we can do” and then dropped to her knees and started sobbing again. So Jonny and I not knowing what to do somberly turned back to our house with heavy hearts.
As we got to our house, I felt wrong about just leaving that woman there alone in her grief. I felt that there was more that we could do. I started to go into judgment of myself and began asking questions such as “Why didn’t I do more?” “Why didn’t I cross the river and climb under the fence to reach her? If it were a human that had died, I would have done that wouldn’t I? So why didn’t I do that now?” “I am a Spiritual Psychologist, I should know better, I should have moved past my uncomfortable feelings and crossed the pasture to be with her and help her.” My heart ached for her and I felt so lost in my grief for her, as well as my judgments around why I didn’t do more, and I continued to stay stuck, until I started to ask better questions. I changed my questioning from “why didn’t I do more?” to “what can I do right now to help her and share my love and compassion?”. As soon as I started to ask more empowering questions, the answer came to me – which was to write her a sympathy card, buy a candle for her to burn in the horse’s honor if she wished, and drop it off at her house. I needed a way to convey to her that my heart was hurting along with hers, and so I bought a card and a candle and wrote a heartfelt message and drove to the house that I thought would be hers based on where the horse was in the pasture. I was so nervous to bring the card up to the house, but I forced myself to do it, even though the feeling of walking up to this stranger’s house felt incredibly uncomfortable. I drove into their driveway, and it appeared that no one was there so I put the card and the candle on the front porch, and then drove away. I left not knowing if it was the right house, or if the woman would ever get my card, or if she would even appreciate it.
The card and candle I left at her house.
After that day, I would oftentimes drive past her house and think of her, or would walk Ollie past the pasture and think of the white horse and that sad, cold day in February. I wondered if the woman ever burned the candle, or if she just thought of it as a stupid offering. I continued to wonder about her each day as I passed the pasture until today I heard a knock on the door….
I went to answer the door and saw a woman standing there who I didn’t recognize. She held out a card in her hand and said, “This is for Elsie and Jonny”, I replied with “I’m Elsie” and then she told me about how she was the woman that we saw in the pasture that cold February morning. She thanked me for my love and compassion and said that it meant so much to her and her family to receive our card and candle. She started to tear up as she spoke of her horse and thanked us, we then hugged, as her and I – two complete strangers – shared the most beautiful moment of love and connection on my doorstep, and in that moment I was so happy that I had reached out to her that day and stepped outside of my comfort zone, overcame my own fears, and went for the love. And I’m so glad that she chose to return it. I’m not sure why she waited until now, but it doesn’t matter, because her visit to my house came at the perfect time and I am so grateful for her returned random acts of kindness. After she left our house, I opened the card to find a beautiful message, and a picture of her and the horse included.
Dear Elsie and Jonny,
I wanted to THANK YOU so much for your sympathy and compassion 3 months ago when my horse passed away. It meant a lot to me to know you cared during my mourning. Fanci, my horse, was the best horse I had ever known, she was my soul-mate horse and we had many joys shared together for 15 years. I only had expected to have another 15 years with her. She died from a very acute and severe colic; the curse of the horse. My family and me miss her so much! I burned the candle in her honor and I pray I can be blessed to see her in heaven someday; maybe even with wings J Thank you for your love and sympathy, even for me “a stranger.”
Robin and Family
HOW BEAUTIFUL. Holy LOVE coming right back to me. THIS is what life is about you guys! Giving love and receiving love. And THIS was such a beautiful reminder to me of how I need to continue to reach out, give my love and bring pure, heartfelt compassion to those in need – even if it is with complete strangers. Because strangers or not, we are all connected, our love matters and it does make a difference.
So I encourage you – how can you give a little extra love today? Who can you reach out to that is grieving and check in with them to let them know that you care? What action step can you do to let someone know that you are thinking of them? Go do it now. Don’t let your mind convince you that you are too busy, or that it won’t matter to them – because it will matter – I promise you it will. I remember when I was grieving and someone reached out to me in the simplest of ways and how much that meant to me. So follow your heart now and go…