Wednesday, January 18, 2006

George's sign

Yesterday was the 1-year anniversary of George's death. Deeply smelling his halter, I caught remnants of the scent that could instantly place me in the pasture beside him as he grazed. Since his death, I've been searching, waiting for a sign that his spirit lives on somewhere. Sometimes I think I'm blind to the subtle signs around me. Sometimes I'm filled with doubt. It's hard to forget the slight breeze that blew through his forelock after he fell to the ground and his breath had left him. It's hard to forget the flock of mourning doves that sat shivah for 7 days after George's death. I dream of him but my grief interferes with his messages, twisting the visions into guilty nightmares filled with pain.

To remember and honor his memory, I hiked through the Torrey Pines State Reserve. It was gorgeous, sunny, and surrounded by ocean. I found myself staring at the ocean atop one of the overlooks on the cliffs. A small black peak broke the water's surface in the distance, catching my eye. At first, I thought it might be a rock, interrupting the ocean's flow towards shore. But then it moved. I realized there were 3 or 4 of these shiny, black peaks, emerging from the ocean's depths momentarily before disappearing again. They were dolphins. They were so elegant and agile, quickly swimming through the water with eerie speed. I watched them for at least an hour, completely captivated.

I made my way to the beach. The tide was coming in, and I felt I was going to be swallowed up by the waves, which stood taller than my head. I had to look up to see the water's surface. I swallowed my fear, realizing how small and insignificant I was compared to the massive power of the ocean. I was totally at its mercy. I unwrapped 3 peppermints, George's favorite, and placed them on the edge of the lapping fingers of the ocean's waves. The waves ebbed and flowed with a methodical rhythm. Within 3 cycles, the peppermints were gone. The ocean had taken my offering.

I absent-mindedly collected seashells and pretty rocks, caught in a reverie of my childhood when I used to play on the beach. Occassionally, I looked up at the waves, searching for a "sign." Just at that moment, a man approached me: "Did you know you were standing below the fastest animal in the world." His words were so strange to me, I was immediately ripped from my meditative state of mind and instantly put on edge. He pointed at the cliffs above me, and I realized I was standing directly below a huge, majestic female peregrine falcon. Apparently, they can dive-bomb their prey at 200 mph, making them the "fastest animal in the world." He let me look at her through his binoculars. She was gorgeous. Although I didn't appreciate being approached by a strange guy, I realized later that it was the only way for me to notice what was directly above me. I had been searching for a sign in the sand or in the waves. Is it possible that the sign was above me the entire time?

2 comments:

Mon said...

Wow, how cool is that? Things usually happen when you aren't looking, sometimes you look so hard, the obvious has to be pointed out to you. That was a really neat story!
George sounds like he was a really well-loved, and deeply missed horse!

Rachel said...

Thanks for all your comments. It's nice to know there are others out there who understand the human connection with animals.