The attendants in the nursing home knew that my husband’s brother, Jamie, was fading fast. At the young age of 55 and after 8 years of fighting Multiple Sclerosis with every possible weapon, the MS had shut his organs down. Last Sunday night, we hugged his frail body good-bye and he passed on quietly that night. When we got the call the following morning, I tearfully hugged my husband and we parted ways as he needed to help attend to all the heart-wrenching details. I hugged my sides tightly, trying to keep my heart from breaking at the thought of life without my favorite brother-in-law in it.
When the dust settled and the void remained, I couldn’t wait to get back out to the stables and to hug my horse.
My Sport knows when I am hurting, and at the risk of being overly anthropomorphic, I have never encountered a more empathetic silence than when I’m in his presence. After a sleep-disturbed night haunted with why's and what-if's, I am in my happy place. My senses are assaulted with nothing but sweetness and beauty.
He lets me hang onto his neck as long as I need to, drawing from his strength and serenity, breathing in his calming muskiness, luxuriating in his comforting warmth. As I break free to feed him an apple, Sport’s eyes brighten with contentment and he continues to lick my hand long after he has removed all traces of juice. I pull out my brushes and get to feel the rush of endorphins that I always get when grooming my four-legged friend. Then I get to take him out on the trail and relax into that amazingly smooth canter of his. I am reminded of my granddad rocking me in his chair by the wood-stove and I am six years old again - not a care in the world, yet to suffer any real sorrows.
Then it was back to reality.
“I gave this to Jamie quite a while ago,” his sweet wife Carol Ann commented, as we visited and I gazed at a beautiful foot-high metallic statue of a spirited horse on their mantle. “Would you like to have it?”
It was the perfect keepsake to remind me of Jamie, who was all heart and spirit - as if we would ever forget him.
In Fondest Memory of Jamie Smith 8/2/59-6/29/15