Recently I was asked to write about a favorite memory.
At my age, how do you choose a favorite memory? There are so many, and it often depends on how one feels at the time.
So instead of a past memory, I decided to write about what I knew was going to be a special one.
I’ve just recently created a memory—one that will stay with me for the rest of my life. This one was so precious it’s almost an affirmation that I am in the right place at the right time. It’s hard to describe, but here I go.
My sister, my adopted sister, and I travelled to a farm in the Midlands of KwaZulu Natal on a wet and misty day, a good three-hour drive away. The Midlands is a startlingly green spot in South Africa and somewhat of a tourist destination. Every shade of green you can imagine can be seen in the soft, rolling hills of the farmlands and country as you travel through.
However, where I went was not on the tourist “we have to go there” list. It was a horse farm: Friesland horses. It was there that we were able to learn a new language—the language of horses, which has been around for millions of years. So, in this wet, cold, beautiful, green farm, which could have come straight from the pages of a magazine, we were given a horse to “play with.”
The horse I was paired with was called Bailey, a 650-kg stallion and a beautiful animal. One look at this dream and I was in love; the smell of horse, the swishing of tails, the incredible softness of his mouth and nose, his all-seeing eyes, all I wanted to do was to put my arms around his neck and never let go.
I don’t know if he sensed my inner sadness, which I carry despite having tried to get rid of it: a broken marriage, a broken heart, and the loss of both parents. Add to that being kicked out of a job because of my age and COVID-19 and dealing with “life stuff” on my own because I have to; there was honestly so much in my heart, and I felt that he felt me.
He let me into his bubble of personal space freely and let me smell him and kiss his cheek. He listened to my mind when I asked him to turn round in a circle without any touch—just by me asking. It’s like he saw me and not only accepted me but gave me permission to feel.
Bailey gave me a gift that could not be bought; he touched my heart and emotions on such a deep level and with so much positivity. His gentle nudgings and indications that he was comfortable with me did more for this broken soul than anything ever has.
It was a reminder to me that I wasn’t ready to be thrown away yet. I still have value and there’s still “stuff” inside me—there are words inside me that are meant to be written and more inside me than even I know. And you know what? That huge, jet-black, beautiful horse and his scent will remain in my heart, and those eyes will look at me forever, nudging me when I need it, pushing me to be better and better than ever, to carry on finding out what else there is inside me. Art? Writing? Teaching? What else?
Well, I can’t wait to find out!
In a million years, I never would have thought this incredibly profound memory would have come my way. But it did, and I’m so grateful.
When you reach a certain age, when you have a few too many years on you to be interesting to the average person, and you experience something like this—something that is all yours and will never leave you—you learn that you are worth something.
Our time is not over. In fact, it’s just beginning.