How was my horse? My sister told me as she laced my shoes, that he was better than the veterinarians expected. Evidently, there was a shadow on his x-ray making the break look worse than it was; all they had to do was remove the broken tip, and he should be sound again. My world seemed to shift; my horse would be OK. She told me there was someone riding him now, and as soon as I could put my jeans and boots on by myself, I could drive over the pass, and back to Seraphim. I saw this as a challenge; I wanted to go back to Pullman. This house was missing too many voices.
When classes were about to start, I returned to Pullman, still stiff, and moving slowly. My Doctor told me, "young lady, without those strong abdominal muscles from riding to support your back, you may have ended up in a wheelchair." If I could just walk to my classes, I'd get better.
Over the summer, one of Betty Tukey's students, who rode dressage horses on an international level, had been exercising my gelding after his surgery. He'd really liked my "little" 15.2-hand three-quarter Arabian. "He's a nice horse. I enjoyed his smooth gaits!", he said. Seraphim was glowing from the care of the whole barn, knowing I needed that horse, the Pony Club members, and fellow horse lovers had stepped in and helped.
As Seraphim recovered, he brought me along with him. My friends from the Latter-Day Saint Institute of Religion in Pullman, R.T. Ball, "Toby" Alan Treasure, and Dave Whiting, would follow me out to the barn as I started to ride again. They'd order pizza delivered to the barn, and visit my horse with me, watching me begin to ride and play again with my four-legged friend. Eventually, I was riding the Pullman hills once again. I felt the rhythm of life beginning.
By late winter, a handsome young man, named Philip Mayer, returned from his Italian mission for the LDS Church. We danced together at an LDS Church Young Adult Conference in Spokane, and he told me he'd like to meet my horse. Phil and I had known each other slightly as children in Seattle. Our mothers had been friends in the Seattle Seventh Ward. I felt he was family I had found again. He loved horses, too; in fact, he told me his name, Philip, meant, "lover of horses". That sealed the deal.
It's amazing, the influence of a humble horse, on a life. Latter-Day Saints are taught that animals also have eternal souls; they have a mission here on earth, too. If it hadn't been for Seraphim, I would have been boating on Ozette Lake with my family that day. Instead, I was at home in Seattle, working at a summer job to pay for his winter hay and board.
Phil and I made the greater Seattle area our home, where I still draw, paint, and sculpt horses. Seraphim eventually went to live out the rest of his days in the Port Angeles, WA area, giving rides to a loving new family's grandchildren.
Today, my dreams are happier. Most of the time, I dream of the life Phil and I have made together. Phil and I recently celebrated forty-six years of marriage. We have four horse-loving daughters, and a grandson and they all know the story of Seraphim, the horse that kept me home.
Occasionally, my little sister Martha returns to my dreams. I can see her in my mind's eye, her long, blond hair streaming behind her, riding Seraphim up the hill at a gallop. She's laughing, and I can hear my family laughing near her. They're right there; just over the hill. I know that hill, where broken hearts are mended.
Seraphim waits for me there.
*Memorial: Birthday of Martha JuliRae Rank | Stacey Mayer, Artist