When Amanda first moved here, I couldn't believe my luck. This woman, she was so much more powerful than she ever knew. She was wild and free inside, she could see fairies, she wondered what the flowers talked about. She could play for hours in the grass with her girls, and she dreamed of having a horse in her field.
We went for hikes together and let our friendship blossom, Amanda tramped her way to the top of Sacajawea Peak and looked at the rapters circling below us and wanted to howl out over the valley. Her heart was so big it almost knocked me down, she pulled in the air from the top of the mountain and stood there like she'd been there forever.
Amanda got her wish, last year, she got a horse. A beautiful, wild young roan, whom she named Sophie.
This horse tossed her head proudly, and Amanda sat in her studio, right next to Sophie's stall, writing music, while her horse looked in on her.
Last week, I came home from a walk at sunset. Amanda was on Sophie, riding in the dusk, and David, her husband, was watching quietly, perched on the fence. David and I watched this amazing woman and her horse, and what I saw when I looked at Amanda was freedom.
The spirit of that horse, and the spirit of this woman are the same. Open, loving, playful, free and wild, Sophie lit something on fire in Amanda that was bigger than anyone could ever hold back.
And Amanda didn't guard this jealously. She gave her horse's love to anyone who wanted it. She shared her horse with her daughters, (whom my sons call their sisters), Sophie would stand next to the trampoline in the pasture while the kids bounced together on it. Amanda had begun bringing Sophie across the street to our pasture for the last few weeks, and it was so wonderful to come home and find this incredible strong wild red horse standing and eating.
I'd go outside in the evening with the hula hoop and Sophie would walk up to the fence and nicker at me. She was insatiably curious, just like Amanda.
Our good friend Cassy is coming to live with the boys while I go down to Colorado for the ski season, and she recently adopted a mare with a lame forefoot, whom she calls Nadia. Nadia is very very shy, and has been lonely.
Sophie, with her huge wild heart, had befriended Nadia, and while Amanda was concerned that Sophie might chase Nadia and Nadia might get hurt, eventually, we let them into the same pasture because they were rubbing each other through the fence trying to get close.
These two horses have spent the last two weeks walking together and eating together and loving each other, and Nadia watched Sophie run and buck and be wild, and she'd trot, too. It was like she was living through Sophie's insane athleticism.
When Sophie came home, they'd stand across the street from each other, each stretching their necks across the fence and whinny and nicker. I had to go out a few nights ago and tell them, like girls at a sleep over, to settle down and go to bed.
Today, Sophie was running in the pasture and slipped. She broke her leg, and the vet came and put her down.
I came outside to find my friend, my beautiful, wild, adventurous, growing, healing friend, nestled in the crook of her horse's neck, leaning against her chest, looking sad and shocked. Her daughers were laying on Sophie and crying, and Sophie was already dead. I went out with my boys, and we gathered around Amanda, and we all said goodbye to this magical, fierce spirit. And as we said goodbye, I felt Amanda's wildness growing, and she cared for these children, and helped them heal in spite of her own tremendous grief and pain.
The kids gathered flowers and made hearts and lit incense and covered Sophie with a blanket, and loved her, and groomed her, and cleaned her feet to say goodbye. And Amanda drew strength from her horse, who loved her so deeply, and gave that strength to the kids, keeping none for herself, even though her loss was like a chasm. We stayed with Sophie till the truck came to take her away, hours later.
Nadia was pacing in the pasture, concerned and scared, and when the truck came, I took the kids inside and made them tea, and we talked about wishing things were different, and we talked about feeling Sophie's spirit, and we talked about death and what it means. And Nadia was running in the field. And when the truck left, she chased it along the fence, crying and whinnying. And then, this shy horse, who wont come near anyone, came up to David and Amanda, who were standing in the pasture, just still, missing their beautiful horse. Nadia came up and put her head in Davids hand and just stood there, like she didn't know what else to do.
After a while, she walked over to where Sophie had died, and put her face in the dirt and just smelled it, like if she could only breathe in the air, the horse she loved might come back. I know we were all feeling the same way, like this couldn't have just happened, like this life, this life that gave us all so much life, could not be gone.
I had sat there, holding my friend's hand, feeling the heat slowly leave Sophie, and knowing I could do nothing to ease Amanda's pain, and being so grateful and so proud for her taking such amazing care of the children, helping them to see this loss as painful but okay. I wish that I could pour my heart into her like a bowl, but I know that living through this is what she's meant to do, and I know I can't take her pain for her.
But I would if I could.
I love you, Amanda. Thank you for bringing Sophie into all of our lives, for sharing her strength and power and beauty with all of us, for being so gracious as to help the kids to say goodbye.