When I get to where I’m going, on the far side of the sky. The first thing that I’m gonna do is spread my wings and fly. Yeah when I get where I’m going, there’ll be only happy tears. I will shed the sins and struggles I have carried all these years. And I’ll leave my heart wide open, I will love and have no fear. Yeah when I get where I’m going, don’t cry for me down here.
I love that Brad Paisley song, don’t you?
I was driving my F250 down the hill. It had been a long day. I was tired and going to hit the hay. Suddenly, out of the blue, one extremely gorgeous horse appeared from nowhere. He elegantly and gracefully galloped up to my truck. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had driven up and down that road hundreds of times. Nothing like this had ever happened before.
My window was open and when he got close he slid to a stop right next to my truck. And I swear, he had a big Texas-sized smile on his face. I reached my hand out and rubbed his head. His eyes lit up and his smile got even larger if that was possible. Then, he turned and galloped away as quickly as he came. All I saw was a cloud of dust. He disappeared and I never saw him again.
It turns out, his name was Merle. Merle was a Quarter Horse, Paso Fino mix. A handsome Black Bay gelding. His original owner didn’t appreciate him for the special boy he was. He was sold to a new owner and my friend, Heidi, was hired to exercise him. He was three and she of course fell for him like a ton of bricks. Heidi and her husband, Travis, used the barter system and Merle was theirs for a cedar armoire. That’s what I call a good deal.
Merle loved people. He was gentle enough for their small children to ride but strong enough to give anyone the type of ride they wanted. A greater disposition couldn’t have existed. Many times he climbed the hill behind their home with other horses and watched the sun go down and rise. But he always made it back down in time for breakfast.
Merle was always happy and eager to please. He was the special horse that if you’re lucky, you find once in a lifetime.
I told Heidi about my extraordinary experience with Merle. It turns out, he was over eighteen years old and had been part of their family for over fifteen years. The night Merle and I had our encounter was his last night on Earth. He was called home sometime afterwards. He was buried on the land he loved, the place he knew as home. And he was loved and will be so missed. He had a great life and touched many hearts.
I was blessed to be the last person on Earth to see him. And I am so happy I was there. Heidi thanked me for showing him the love he needed to pass on. I should be the one thanking him. And maybe one day I will.
I often write in my novels about a horse named Eagle who touched me the way Merle touched Heidi and her family. I wasn’t able to be there for him when he was called home. But I keep him alive in my heart – where he’ll always remain. Just like Merle will live on in their hearts.
So, what did I learn? Don’t turn away when someone or something is in need of your attention or affection. Because you might just be the last loving face they see to help them on their way when they get to where they’re going.
Merle had a great and fulfilling life. Godspeed, Merle.