They say kids get angry or cry when they lose a loved one. My father, an outdoors man who smelled like pine cones and fireplaces, had recently passed away and I was angry. I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to cry and I certainly didn’t want anyone around me. Any people, anyway.
Raised on a farm in upstate New York, my dad had loved being outside. He was proud of being able to walk in the woods and not make a sound. Blending in and observing birds, deer, rabbits and even black bears brought his soul to life. Helping neighbors was also a part of his soul as his skills as a carpenter enabled him to lend a hand building homes, barns and fences. After helping a neighbor til their field and build them a new stable, he stopped like he always did to admire their new horse Casey. Casey was new and taking his time getting used to his new surroundings. With soft kind words and a white sugar cube, my dad would talk encouragingly to the horse. The two bonded and one day the neighbor gave my dad Casey.
A beautiful but shy horse, Casey looked forward to my dad’s strong hands and deep, calming voice. Soon he was stomping the ground if my dad was late in the early morning with his feed and running to the gate when he arrived home. Lost in my own grief, I had forgotten all about Casey.
I ran out back with an apology and a sugar cube. I put my palm under his warm nose. I know I didn’t smell like Dad but I cared as much, if not more now. Casey looked at me and I looked at him and in the cool fall afternoon light, we didn’t say a word. He took the sugar cube, still looking at me. We couldn’t talk but we didn’t need to. We both missed him but knew he would want us to stay together and breathe in deeply the great outdoors just like he always did. And that’s exactly what we did.