Last night, with tremendous sorrow, I lay Friday, my dear friend and companion, to rest. Run, Friday, Run! Run our high mountain trails as the peaks turn gold. Run through the belly deep yellow mules’ ears in the June light. Run through the red maple and orange oak leaves under the dusky August sky. Run tracks and nips through the October snow. Run fast, Run free, Run far.
It is hard to explain the bond with a horse, an animal so different from us. This bond does not always happen, but when it does, it makes your heart beat hard. Friday and I would run, wild and free, through the fields above our house, with no bridle, no saddle, no fences. He loved to run. So did I. At those times, you are intensely connected to the entire world, there is no separation between you and the wind, the stars, the mountains, the changing light, the earth. You run as one, both in body and in mind. When I thought – the peak, Friday, let’s go to the peak – that is where we would go. Where I looked, he looked too. When I paused, he hesitated. When he breathed, I breathed. The connection is deep, deeper than my beating heart, as if from deep in the earth. The closest explanation I can come up with is the ‘spirit horse’ sometimes described by the Native Americans. Friday came into my life at a time so exquisitely difficult, when my heart as a mother was broken. The bond was intense and instant, and it entwined like a growing vine from there. He lifted me from the depths of despair, and gave me wings, the flutter of life that once was inside me, now I was within, and the power to beat up and away on the rising wind. I know that now he is a part of the wind when it brushes my face, because I can hear and feel and smell him. I think he was always a part of the wind. At night, he comes back, and we go together into the mountains, to the peak, through the field, to the creek and the spring, to the deepest grass. I cannot easily tell when I am awake and when I am asleep, and so it does not matter. I cry now for what I have lost, but I cannot cry for what I have had. For this thing, this connection, this time … this is something that far transcends who I am and where I am and even what I am. I have had an experience that is rare and beautiful and immense. I have ridden with the heartbeat of the earth in a way that can only be the gift of a ‘spirit horse’.