On Saturday, I took one of our trucks down one of the most beautiful valleys in the world, just twenty minutes from our home, to buy some hay for our horses. I hadn't bought hay from these people before, and the couple joked around as we loaded eighty bales on the truck – she looked to be in her forties, he in his late fifties. I made some remark about how lovely it was to see a couple who were so happy and the man replied, ‘That’s because our life has been so hard, so very hard. We lost two daughters, you see…tragic, just blinking tragic, mate, but, you know, they’re still here with us.’
The woman took over the story and began to tell me about her daughter who died because of her horse, and I interrupted with, ‘Oh, you’re Louise’s mum!’
About four years earlier, a local girl who was an experienced and talented horse rider, died in a freak accident with her horse. I had never met her, but after she died all I heard about her was that she was a wonderful, bright, helpful person who loved her family and friends and animals. It seemed so unfair that such a bright and shining light should be taken so young.
Almost a year after she died, a local lad was nearly killed in another freak accident while with friends. He very nearly died and was unconscious for a while, but was saved and recovered fully in hospital. It was such an unusual accident that it made all the local papers and had people shaking their heads with, ‘Unbelievable!’
Not long after the boy almost died in his accident, I was talking to a lady whom I met by chance and it turned out she was Louise’s mum. She told me how sad she’d been since Louise had died but she and her other daughter could still feel her around them all the time and the horses always seemed to know when Louise was ‘there’. She said her daughter visited her in dreams and there were always little signs left around to indicate she was still with them, and the dogs, horses and cats often looked up past the mother and sister as though looking at Louise.
She said her son, who was in high school, had not come to terms with the death of his sister and he had been terribly depressed and convinced that there was no life after death, that his sister had just gone and there was no God or no soul. His downward spiral worried her and she could not convince him that the spirit of Louise was still with them, still laughing and telling them what to do. Then he had his mishap and almost died and in hospital he confessed to his mother that Louise had visited him. When he floated between this life and death, she appeared to him and told him off well and good, just as she had when she was alive. She called him selfish and told him to stop feeling sorry for himself, that she was fine and he had to be the man of the house and help support his mother and other sister rather than make them worry about him. ‘It was her, Mum,’ he told his mother, ‘It really was her.’
I hadn’t seen Louise’s mum since that day, but I often thought about her and wondered how many lives had been saved by Louise’s death as many other horse people knew of it, all around the country, and took it as a warning to be careful. Her death may have saved scores of lives over the years. I was surprised that she was in a relationship as I remember her saying a painful divorce had ended any chance of her ever entering into a relationship with another man.
It turned out, the man she was with had known Louise for three years before she had died, but had never met her even though Louise had tried to throw them together. He has sworn off women every bit as much as she had sworn off men. Louise told him that he’d get on with her mother, but he refused to meet her. Sometime after Louise died, the two met by accident, and it seemed Louise had her way as they are together, and very happily so, and able to share the loss of two daughters, although they both insist that the daughters are very much around, especially Louise who makes her strong presence felt in many ways almost every day.
During her early period of grief, Louise’s mum visited a ‘medium’, with no great hopes but great scepticism. The medium brought up so many bits of information that could not possibly be ‘cold read’ (developing story lines based on the positive or negative feedback given by the listener) or from any amount of research (not that there was time for this). Things about the funeral and certain moments that no one else shared and things Louise did and said and wanted, names and animals and messages that could not possibly be from chance, guess work or cold reading. That convinced her that Louise still existed, with the same character, so the energy that was her soul and spirit lived on, just in another form.
It was wonderful catching up with this lady once more... she still has much to achieve and I believe her daughter is there on the other side helping her along.
Also, the hay was great and all the horses loved it. We still have about 8 visiting mares here, even though it is very late in the Australian horse breeding season (which starts on September 1 for our horses... I think the breeding season for Standardbreds is one month different from other breeds and starts on October 1). People breeding for weanling and yearling halter classes tend to have their mares at stud during September and October, but people breeding for performance (under saddle) or just pleasure horses often breed this late in the season. There were two 'walk ons' on Saturday as well: people have their mares checked by their vet and when the mare is ready to get in foal, the vet will tell them to take her to the stallion on such-and-such a day for the best chance of conception, and the mares arrive here, have their brief interlude with the stallion of choice, and go home again. One of the mares is an exceptional Quarter Horse broodmare, having produced two National Champion Quarter Horse colts, and one of her sons has won three (or more) National Champion Quarter Horse gelding titles as well - all at the Australian Quarter Horse National Championships and World Show Downunder, so I am REALLY looking forward to what she puts on the ground from our stallion, Nights Of Gold.