Calculated risk

They clamber up the apple tree, my four and six year olds, all the way to the top where the ripe apples drip like ruby gems from the bowed branches. I catch glimpses of faces through foliage and try to avoid sounding too nervous as I ask them to come down a bit lower in the tree. Rosy is the monkey, clinging and swinging, branch to branch and apples rain down in her wake.

Finally the feed bucket is full - half green and half ripe apples for a corral full of horses eager for a bite. The kids get braver, holding hands flat to offer apples to the hungry mouths, only to be grossed out by horse spit on their fingers. And she, the quiet beauty I held moments after birth, 16 now and silent. She knows the sorrow in my soul but instead of talking about it, we dance through the dreamy moments of peace in the horse corral, as she tends my kids and lets me take pictures. How could I disappoint her so, to end my life??

It is pure love, children and horses. While healthy fear keeps them guarded, there are moments like these, when horse and child melt together in embrace and solace that can only be found in the pulsing warm bodies of people and pets. The amazing synergy to touch between beast and man.

The gentle spirit in the glistening eyes, the gleam of the sun off curried backs, the thrill of the bareback ride around the yard. It is a love affair, just blossoming.

Their love affair with me predates horses, all the way back to birth, strengthening with every moment at the breast when they were babes, every smile from mother to baby, and even now from the broken and bruised mama to the broken and bruised child. The youngest, my favorite boy in the whole world, clambers down the hay mow stairs, and I watch from above while Katy watches from below. No railings. Another scary moment for a mom of klutzy kids.

I saw it there, on the hay mow floor. The only thing rougher than aged barn wood is the rasp of a sturdy rope. It hangs in a loop and you could swing out the door on it. I feel it for a second, the thorny grip of the rope on neck, the leap out, the swing, the fall, the last crack of life shut out like the sliver of light as a door closes.

But I have finally, desperately, clung to life. When I think of suicide, I read about myths of suicide and the urge passes. I "turn my mind", a coping skill used in modern cognitive behavioral therapy, words so similar to the definition of "repentance", the Hebrew word  שׁוּבָה transliterated "shubah", meaning a return or a turning away from.

I return to my children, and I turn away from the ropes and the knives and all the other everyday things that could be my end. My end is already written in His book. As depression wavers in the onslaught of medication, I begin to dream of more horse-child love, the future. To daydream, not about how I'll hurt myself next, but how I'll build for the future.

God is doing great things.