On August 5, I found this message in my inbox:
Leroy passed away sometime this morning. He was his usual self this morning at 7:30 morning hay time, eager for his breakfast.
When I went back out at 9:30 for grain and mid-morning hay, he was gone. There was no sign of a struggle, it looks like he was gone before he hit the ground, likely dozing in the sun, or meandering to the next hay pile.
Happy trails, Leroy. I’ll miss you, my sweet old man.
I first wrote about Leroy last July (“What I’m Learning from Leroy”). Leroy was a gorgeous old man, who had been rescued from a feed lot by Michelle Ives, who lives in Connecticut. Leroy had had a tough life as an Amish work horse; when Michelle brought him home, he was grossly underweight, sullen and depressed, and unwilling to interact with humans.
I was privileged to have been able to work with Leroy several times (across distance). After just one session (combining Reiki and Neuromuscular Retraining), he came out of his depression, began to eat with gusto, and allowed Michelle to touch him.
Last July, I wrote:
So what am I learning from Leroy?
Leroy is showing me the exquisite power of letting go. His body had been abused, his spirit battered. He was awash in pain and fear. He was in yet another unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people who, if experience was a guide, were not to be trusted. His spirit was locked inside a dark and lonely place.
Yet Leroy has chosen to heal. From the very first, he accepted the Reiki, trusted it, allowed his heart to open, and simply allowed the fear and pain and abuse and horror of his life to flow out. The transformation was immediate. He held no grudge; he let go of the darkness and embraced the light.
While Leroy had told me he was very happy in his new home and intended to stay there a long while, that was not to be (although horses and humans have a very different sense of time). He was in his new home for just under a year.
I spoke with Leroy last night, a week after his passing. I’d wanted to speak with him sooner, but couldn’t compose myself to do it; whenever I thought of him, the tears started. I never met this wonderful creature in person, but he has firmly established himself in my heart.
I told him that we all missed him. He said, “My heart gave out. It just stopped beating.” I asked him if this was a surprise. He said, “Not really. I didn’t know it would happen today [he said today although he had passed a week earlier], but I knew it would happen soon. I wasn’t strong enough for another winter.”
Then he told me how much he loved Michelle: “She was the sweetest soul I’ve ever known. She cared for me as though she had known me my whole life, and here I was a broken down old man. She gave me respect. Always. Treated me with dignity. It was hard for me to bond with her the way she would have liked. I had never done that before. I wasn’t sure what to do. But it wasn’t for lack of loving her. I hope she understands that. It is just who I was.”
We spoke a bit longer about his life before Michelle. He pointed out the bright spots in a hard life: “sunshine and sweet breezes and the touch of children.” He also mentioned another woman who had taken him in once. “But she had to give me up again,” he said. “That was very hard for her.”
Leroy spoke with grace and dignity. The power of his presence made the room quiet and sweet.
“Thank her for her love and care,” he said. “Tell her that it mattered a great deal.” He added, “There are many others.”
But you were one of a kind, sweet Leroy. Thank you for all you have taught us. Peace to you, my friend.
Until next month . . .
*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in September 2008.
© 2008 by Pamela Sourelis