A few days ago I was waiting to meet Aub, so I walked over to the GW Boutique for a few minutes. I was basically window shopping and admiring the way all the blazers were put together and noticing how the styles of coats over the past thirty years were all hanging in one spot on the outerwear rack.
I was walking by the rack with jackets and vests when I spied a grey hoodie. A grey NON-zip up hoodie. Y’all know how I love me some hoodies, so it won’t surprise you that I was drawn in, and I pulled it out to look at it. When I saw the horse on there in a rag quilt style (which impresses me all kinds of ways), I figured someone had put a lot of time and love into making such a unique creation.
And then I thought about that horse.
I was once a little girl who loved horses. Everything horses. For my birthday, I had a carousel cake and Mama made me a book bag with an appliqued horse in it and a book about the rodeo was tucked inside. Every time the Scholastic book order form came home with me I scoured it for horse stories and equine books. When one was the 95 cent special that month, I was the first to turn in my order form. I asked for Breyer horses for Christmas and birthdays; they sat on my bookshelf in a particular order when I didn’t have them down naming and appreciating the qualities of each one. I loved shirts with horses and when I was in the third grade, my dream came true. My Daddy got me a horse.
Her name was Betsy given by me, because it was close to Bess, and Good Queen Bess had been Daddy’s horse he had loved so much. I also loved Betsy Ross, so it was a tribute to her too. I learned to take care of our horse and I rode bareback and I talked to her about all kinds of things.
I was a little girl who loved horses.
The little girl who loved horses had a friend who loved science fiction and books by Tolkien. He spoke of worlds not yet seen except in the imagination of great people, and he was funny and kind. He even loaned her one of his science fiction books, and she tried to read it. She really did. He was a good friend, and never once did the girl I once was question her love of horses or the friendship she had with the one who talked of hobbits and adventures and a future that was beyond comprehension.
Somewhere along the way that little girl forgot she loved horses so much. She grew up to real life responsibilities and adventures and hard and beautiful things. She forgot a lot of things from way back then, but she didn’t forget the boy who was funny and imaginative and smart and kind.
Who grew to be a kind man.
The other day at the GW I took the horse hoodie to the counter and I paid for it and brought it home. After I tossed it in the washer I drove to the hospital to see my friend whom I haven’t seen in a long, long time. I didn’t know until I got there that I was really there to say goodbye.
Today the boy who loved the planets and thinking about all the what if’s left us to soar among the stars he loved and to hug folks he loves whom he hasn’t seen in a long, long time. Today the boy who was so kind and whose story was intertwined in mine for all of our school years left the pain and brokenness and is finally home.
I am sad. But as I sat here thinking and taking all of this in, I came upon the girl who loved horses, sitting by herself, weeping into her hands, unable to contain the grief she feels at stories that have ended way too soon. The horses forgotten, the hopes and dreams that used to lull her to sleep at night, and the friend whom she will never see again in this life. Who I am now is very sad, feeling this in my own “I suppose I have to get used to grief and losing people I love” way. She, however, is 9 again, and the empty shelf where the horses once sat and the empty place where her friend lived is baffling and breaking her heart.
Tonight I’m thankful for a reminder of who I used to be. How the joys of good and long friendships and horses’ tails flying in the wind used to give me peace and comfort and make me smile and so happy. I’m thankful for the reminder, as hard as it is, that life is short so we need to grab hold of who and what matters to us and let them know that.
Tell someone you love them today. If that’s too much, tell them they matter. Thank them for being a part of your story. Sit down and ask them what they dreamed about when they were 9. Or last night. Share a book with them, or let them borrow your pencil. Toss out a thread to intertwine your life to another’s, because in the end, that’s where beauty comes from–the reflection of our hearts in the eyes of someone who cares.
RIP, BBC. You will be missed. Thanks for helping me see the stars way back then. And today.
Love to all.