Horses graze in the bottom pasture, nudging tufts of grass with the spongy tips of their noses. All whiskers, teeth, and chewing, they pull the verdant prairie grass from dark moist earth and chew methodically, grazing across a warm sunny acre through a day.
Do they know that atop the hill, the one who kept watch over them has left the loam behind? While they rose from green earth at dawn, the spirit of their keeper departed in silence. In the dark of night he took his last breath and with that final inhalation left a life on an earth he’d loved so much; breathless to enter heaven in perfect form.
He was a boy in the great depression when food was scarce and family was stretched thin.
He was a man too young to go to war and too schooled to stay behind.
He was a husband and father who tried to find his way through heartache to happiness.
We met him long after the ebb and flow that left deep wrinkles in his skin, kid-like wonder in his eyes, legs useless, adrift from his spine. We could not say we knew him when or then…there was only now.
Now was quite remarkable.
Full of story and vim, he saw humor in chaos and laughter in the anarchy of a body unwilling to cooperate with aging.
Tinkerer, fixer, mender, listener, never paralyzed.
Never one to say look at me, look after me, or leave me be.
He left earth in sleep, taking nothing with him but goodbye.
And what is to cease breathing
But to free the breath from its restless tides,
That it may rise and expand
And seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence
Shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top,
Then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
Then shall you truly dance.