It is almost Christmas, and my birthday, and today I cried reading an old birthday email from my sister. She signed it “Lisa the Pizza, Tony Baloney and the rest of the gang ‘up there’,” meaning my brother, and my mother and father.
“Tony Baloney” died two years and a half ago, leaving behind three adopted children whom he adored and who adored him, and a loving wife. My father and mother died 25 and 20 years ago, as impossible as that seems. Dad and Mom died this time of year. And my best friend, Wendi, died shortly after. All of cancer of some sort or the other. But they all loved horses.
We now live in Millbrook — horse country. Horse farms dot the countryside. My father and mother and Wendi would have adored it. My brother was the only one to visit Millbrook, coming with his family whom we put up at a nearby horse ranch. They all had the time of their lives. One of my fondest memories of my brother is from that visit. We are holding hands as he is relaxing after a day of riding with his kids. He is drinking and smoking (what eventually killed him) and we are taking in the sunset on the porch of the dude ranch.
I love horses, too. It is in my blood. Dad played the horses and my brother worked on several racetracks, including Belmont. Now I abhor horse-racing, finding it cruel. My brother had horror stories to tell of how the horses were drugged and run hurting. I have seen horses being put down– all for a senseless sport. Dad and I would quarrel about this if he were still alive.
I remember stroking a horse once at a show nearby and the bliss I felt was mystical in a most spiritual way. I wanted that moment to last forever. And the happiest I have ever seen my husband was on a moonlit ride we took in a canyon in Arizona on our honeymoon. Horses bring happiness. My husband knows it. Dad knew it. Tony knew it, Wendi knew it and to some extent, Mom knew it.
Too old to ride now I pet horses when I can, and admire them as we drive by horse farms. I photograph them when the spirit moves me. I ache inside for my parents who would have adored it here in our little barn. For my brother, the cowboy, as different from me as night and day, but bonded by a deep love and shared losses. For my friend, Wendi, with whom I shared a not-to-be replicated link of love. Merry Christmas, Tony Baloney, Mom, Dad, Wendi!
My blessing comes from the love I share with my husband who married me despite my mental illness. It comes, too, from our spiritual connection to nature. I admire my husband who works with society’s outcasts as a clinical social worker. My giving is on a much smaller scale– tiny things here and there– online activism and such. You play the hand you are dealt.
Christmas can be a hard time, and New Year’s, too, and I know there will be the inevitable meltdown into tears over losses of loved ones, over mortality, over our material nature. And perhaps you will also have your own moment of bleakness. But I hope that you, too, will be able to touch your bliss at Christmas and find a blossoming hope for the new year.
Blessings of joy to all!!