This morning, I am suspended in silence. The sky is grey and it is snowing. The horses are purring as they eat their hay. It took them a moment to give into their current contentment because I forgot to go to the farm supply store to buy more sweet feed yesterday. These small, but seemingly impossible tasks, they seem to add up. Even so, the horses are forgiving. As I brush snow off their backs and rub their muscles, they bend their giant, gentle necks so that their head can rest against mine. Their eyes are soft. They’ve been particularly sensitive towards me since all of this happened. Sometimes I think they’ve transmuted into elephants, the profundity of their sentience has grown so large.

Horses. They’ve become my healers for the past several years, in significant ways. I reached out to wild horses and started to build a life around them. It didn’t take long and then these two horses, Colorado and Dakota, unexpectedly walked into my life. Again, I reached out to them; I fed and watered and brushed them and, in exchange, they breathed some newfound life into me. Their trails started carving out new paths in my life. The most significant trail led to Carl. If it weren’t for these horses, I’m pretty sure our paths might have missed each other. Or rather, these horses were brought into my life because this was going to happen all along. I feel like this story was written long before either of us could have ever known–our marriage of spirits and Carl’s death and whatever is to come. There is a word that has whispered itself to me often since falling in love with Carl. The word is “Maktub,” an ancient word that means “it is written.” Our relationship has felt this way, to both of us, since the very beginning. We trusted in it completely.

I still trust this. But I’m not yet up to the task of healing. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle, staving off this horrible feeling of anxiety that continuously keeps creeping in around the edges. Even so, the horses keep reaching for me. Their reach is so soft and unassuming that the near-imperception is powerful beyond measure. This reaching–from friends and family, strangers and animals–causes moments of lightness and lets the peace sneak back in. Sometimes I even feel Carl wrap his arms around me. He lets me lean backward into his spirit and says: “I love you, baby.” He repeats this as many times as I need to hear it. He tells me to follow my heart. He tells me that I’ll know what to do. But I can’t always feel him and, when I can’t, that’s when the anxiety comes. I plead, “Please God, please God…help me.” And, somehow, maybe these and everyone else’s prayers are working, even when I’m not sure of it at the time. The depth of my grief causes me to clench every muscle, every thought, every movement. But eventually, a softness occurs…my body isn’t built to stay frozen forever.

Even so,
This silence…if it doesn’t already exist, sometimes I create it.

Carl and my life together was always alive and connected with phone conversations and texts and sharing music. It was constant. In the most painful moments, I attempt to hit the mute button, a survival technique that doesn’t help at all. Eventually, the music will want back in. I can’t yet listen to it. Carl filled my life with music, our life together was built of it. For now, for today, I’ll just try to listen to the directions of a friend and attempt to enjoy the snow. I’m grateful for her suggestion. It allows me a way to be at peace with this silence. I love snow. These snowflakes, they are gentle, like Carl.

**the photo of Carl playing mandolin in my studio while i painted. i loved it when our creative spirits found a place to be together.

{originally published Nov 19, 2014}

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