Dear Max,

By Haven Lindsey  in  blog  on  02.16.2022

This is the second letter I’ve written to you. The first was a year ago on the first anniversary of when you moved. I had always known the day would come when you would be moved yet it still ripped my heart. But when you were moved to a bigger and nicer ranch and I got to see how well you were being cared for I knew it was ok for me to go. The Universe threw open her doors shortly after you moved and I found my way home too.

And now, I write another letter to you. It might be the last. It might not be. This time I sit with tears of love and memories streaming down my face. I have to keep wiping my eyes just to see to write.

You died today. You were 29.

I hadn’t really known a horse before meeting until you, Marley, and Sunny. I remember the first time I walked up to your gate – you were there with Sunny and you saw me standing there. I was trying to pretend a horse ranch was a place I went to every day, but it was all new to me. You immediately walked over and let me pet you. I was timid and you were gentle. You blinked your white eyelashes at me and as I stood there wearing all the wrong clothes for a horse ranch, I knew I would be back to visit.

I had just moved to Texas. I left Maine because I was barely surviving there. Every other kid I saw reminded me of the one I had lost as if the Universe was playing a cruel joke. I would hear the name Justin and tears would come to my eyes. Sometimes without thinking I’d slow down or pause only to wake up again and again and remember. He was gone. It was the same with my ex-husband, the tall, handsome financial advisor with the midwestern charm who lied and deceived me while I thought he was my best friend. Then he charmed his way into someone else’s life somehow making his embezzlement and job loss my fault. I couldn’t stay – I was concerned I was running away but I soon learned I was running to.

I moved to the place where everyone else was moving thinking they had figured something out. Austin, Texas was the pinnacle of growth and a thriving economy. I didn’t have a job but I packed up my dream to be a writer and my secret that I had lost everyone and everything I once had – there was nothing left to lose. Texas welcomed what little spunk I had left. The Lone Star State didn’t erase my pain but she didn’t judge me for having it either. She didn’t pity me but she took me in, my shattered heart, a big dream, and showed me how to put one foot in front of the other. I fell down a lot but eventually, those steps led me to you. I thought I was visiting you to spend some time with horses and give them love and attention. Funny though, you knew long before I did that you were doing the same for me.

No one knew my story in Texas but I spent hours grooming you, walking with you, and telling you all about it. You were patient as I learned how to use the brushes and combs. You’d hold up your leg when I struggled to understand how as I learned to clean your hooves. You taught me that you preferred carrots to watermelon and sugar cubes were your favorite. You taught me how to be around horses, to trust them, and learn to guide them. You laughed at my reaction the day we saw the armadillo – I think it was that moment when I recognized your smile. You taught me that life is constantly changing. I watched how you responded and I learned from you. Everyone around us said how you were taking care of me. I think it was the first ride after I had fallen off of you and gotten hurt badly that I fully understood. I gingerly climbed out of the saddle and as I stepped on the ground you turned your head and nuzzled me for a long time. My riding partner saw it and I felt it too.

You inspired me to adopt Gracie because I wanted to share the experience of being on a ranch with a dog. She was afraid of you at first – she was afraid of everything at first. But within a few visits, she stopped running for the safety of the car and instead, ran to you. I’d watch as you would nuzzle her, talk with her, teach her, and I watched you come to life. Our ever-increasing visits became the highlight of my time in Texas. Gracie grew up with you and Sunny – she was there when Marley got sick and right after he died.

I always knew I wasn’t a fit for the big city of traffic and pavement and people, but I fit in with you. You reminded me that I was meant for a simple, quiet, and peaceful life. I told you how I had discovered northern New Mexico, how that was where I was meant to be yet I doubted I could have ever left you behind. Cold rainy days, sweltering hot summers, the Thanksgiving that I spent with you, making sure you got your medicine and attention when you were sick – there was no place I would have rather been. New Mexico would eventually happen but you were where I was supposed to be.

I never knew if horses understood time or clocks but I reasoned that you would understand moons. I never left you without telling you how many moons it would be until I would be back. Nine moons was the longest I was ever away and usually, it was just a couple. Sometimes I’d come sooner than planned and the first thing I would say was, “I know I said three moons but I was able to come sooner.” It was always about the moons.

When I was away, on vacation, or trips – even scuba diving, I’d look up at the moon and know you were looking at the same one. I’d say to you in my thoughts, “Three more moons, Max…”

I went to bed last night and watched the nearly full moon rise. I awakened around midnight and couldn’t sleep. But it wasn’t like a restless night’s sleep that I had experienced before. I felt heavy and sad, I felt alone and lonely, I was emotional and none of it made sense. I figured it was due to the full moon – my bedroom was light from the full moon. As I lie there awake, feeling all the feelings, I talked with you and Sunny in my thoughts. I asked Sunny if she still had her winter coat on – how I love her face with her winter hair. I asked you if you saw the big moon and wondered if you were in your barn stall or outside. I didn’t sleep much and awoke feeling nauseated – I suppose from no sleep.

And then I switched on my phone to see a text message sent the night before. You were dying. And it all started to make sense. My first thought was accompanied by a slight smile, “Of course, you’re dying, Max…you’re letting me know and you’re leaving on a full moon. The biggest possible moon – there’s no way I can miss it.”

You died this morning. I’m told you will be buried in a beautiful place and I know you will be. In January I had written ‘Full Moon Puja’ on this day in my calendar. I didn’t know why I did so – it’s not something I do often, if ever. But something compelled me to write that and block time for a puja this evening as the full moon rose. I even mentioned to a friend the day before how odd it was that I had planned that.

I moved to Texas without really understanding why. I scheduled a puja on a full snow moon without understanding why. But I came to learn why I moved to Texas and this morning, I understood why I planned a puja.


You helped my heart heal and you showed me what it was like to live a life of patience, wisdom, and acceptance – attributes I needed but perhaps hadn’t recognized. You loved me and you loved Gracie and you welcomed us both. You inspired me to write my first book and another one is on the way. I guess there’s no coincidence that the book was already dedicated to you.

Until our next lifetime, Max-a-million, every full moon will be ours.

~ Haven