And so right in the middle of a noisy music practice for an upcoming wedding, I learn that my horse's little sister and practical look-alike, my favorite since mine died on that tear-drenched November night, has the beginnings of the malady that claimed my Black Diamond's life.
Practice ends quickly, and I get into the Suburban and go there. I cannot stay away. If she dies too, it won't be because I didn't fight for her life.
And on the way I fight the tears driving. Please, not another loss. Isn't three graves enough in the space of a year? Why do I need to stand over a fourth and look at the fresh mound of dirt blanketing a treasure?
I get there and see her, and she reminds me of my horse - her older sister - and all the pain and struggle when 800 pounds of velvet covered muscle lost the battle for life. And even as I watch this beauty hurt, I can't help but think of my beauty that lies buried only a couple hundred yards away.
Hours later the vet takes her away with him. And I? I go home, hot, sticky, and tired, and wash the sweat away but the memories remain with me. And when darkness falls and during family worship I pray for the life of that beautiful horse, it is as if I am back in November again, with sweat pouring though the night is well below freezing, the guest cabin flood light illuminating loss lying still on the lawn.
But even then my thoughts find themselves arrested in their track.
Loss? Actually, loss? Didn't I kneel on that lawn and give her back to the Giver? Is it really loss when you give a gift?
When I get up to my room, my journal and my pen find each other, even while tears stream down my face -
"What You've taken I have not lost. Because I gave her to You willingly, a gift given back."
Two days later I stand above the fourth grave in an eventful year. Look at the mound, stand beside the girl that is just like a little sister to me, and it’s been only six months and she has buried her treasure, who was a little sister to mine. I think of how my brother said she was as pretty as a flower when he returned from helping bury her, even after her struggle. We cry together, because they meant exactly the same thing to us. I know how she feels. She knows how I do.
We crouch in silence, one mound on one side, the other mound on the other side. Between her sister and the fence is buried the other half of the dream.
These graves are mysteries to me.
But they are not lost - not the treasures, not the dream.
Nothing is lost if it is a gift given back...