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  • Writer's pictureRogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Country Notebook

Invisible tears

Updated: Jul 4

Journal columnist Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson with Charlie-Horse. (Journal file photo)

Country Notebook
By Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson

Before my son left for college three states away, I spent the summer crying in private. I rejoiced for the opportunities he would experience. I mourned how quickly 18 magnificent years had come and gone. I wondered how time slipped away. I would have given up years of my life to once again hold him in my lap, teach him how to tie his shoes, and watch him shoot basketball hoops.

For weeks, I practiced having a brave face, but the morning my son pulled out of the driveway, the  invisible tears pounded within my chest. I was having a heart episode. No, not the one that is caused by blocked arteries, but the one that attacks due to love. Love hurts.

Not long after, I was given the opportunity to purchase a very big horse, reminding me of my grandfather’s draft horses he sold when he bought a tractor for farming. It was in the 1950s, but I still remember how sad he was when they were led into the horse trailer. Gramp would not have cried in public, but I am guessing there were lots of invisible tears bearing down on his chest. Love hurts.

I called this horse, Charlie, after my Grandpa Charles. Eventually I gave him a hyphenated name and he became Charlie-Horse to avoid any confusion with my grandson, Charlie.  Charlie-Horse was a big, black horse with a mind of his own. I found out quickly that I could not tell an 1,800-pound horse what to do, so we co-existed by my charming him with grain and a warm barn. My only expectation was that he be unique in size, beautiful, and shake the ground when he galloped, sorta, across the pasture. He never failed me. I was in love with him. 

After nearly 23 years together, I took extra effort to keep him healthy by feeding him sweet feed every day. When I bought him, I remember whispering in his ear that we would go out together. I kept up my end of the bargain, but I eventually realized that would not happen.  Charlie-Horse wasn’t waiting for his 5 p.m. feeding. It was like I was having a heart episode, one that is caused by loving someone so much, it hurts.

I’ll never know why his heart stopped beating, but I do know I wasn’t holding back any tears, the visible kind. The Bible tells us God puts all the tears we’ve shed into a bottle for the day when there will be no more sorrow, no more tears. I wanted to whisper again in Charlie-Horse’s ear that I loved him. And I would do it all again even though there was much sadness when we had to travel different paths. 

I was not crying for Charlie-Horse, but for me and for his pasture mate. The two of them were inseparable. Now, I’m trying to find Midnight a friend, maybe a donkey or goat. 

As a Christian, I truly believe we will see our pets in heaven, not necessarily in the first heaven where we reside upon our earthly death, but when God opens up the New Heaven and New Earth for us to live in eternity.  

Charlie-Horse’s last heartbeat was in early February, the month of LOVE. None of us know when we shall take our last breath, but we do know how fast time goes.The lesson I’ve been taught over the years is to say, “I Love You” often, whether its family or friends. If uncomfortable, start practicing on your pets.  We don’t have to wait for a day or month to tell someone how much they are loved. Sometimes love hurts, but it’s worth every tear, visible or not. 

Rogene “Jeannie” McPherson, from the Centerville area, is a regular contributor to the Linn County Journal. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries.

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