Whisper Receives a Seal of Approval from the Other Side

A Gift from Maggie

This post first appeared on The Power of Pets website maintained by Marybeth Haines. 

By Ruth Edgett

Sometimes in the world of humans and horses—if we’re lucky enough—we meet our horse of a lifetime. Ubetcha Maggie was that horse for me. I felt eternally twelve years old with her. Together we could run faster, go farther, have more adventures than either of us could ever do on our own.

Having begun life as a Thoroughbred racehorse, Maggie was 1,000 pounds of compressed energy, ready to explode at the least provocation. And she was my best friend. My road with Maggie, from timid purchaser to confident rider, had taken some bumps and curves but eight years into our relationship, Maggie and I had become a well-synchronized pair; we trusted each other absolutely. Maggie would even come to me in dreams. Once, as we were still sorting our relationship and I was learning a painful new meaning for the term “On again, off again”, Maggie appeared in a dream to say proudly, “I’m very fit!” to which I replied ruefully, “I know.”

Through dreams and inner experiences, I gradually realized that Maggie’s and my story may have had its start long before we met in this life. Perhaps we had been together in previous lives, too, and this one was a chance for two souls who loved each other to be together once again. It was that kind of love that saw us through Maggie’s last days, because I had a knowing that in this life—perhaps unlike past ones—it was my job to see her out. And I did. I was there the frigid January midnight that Maggie drew her last breaths and collapsed on the floor of her stall after a valiant battle with pneumonia.

With the physical part of Maggie gone, I felt like taking a rest from horses. Responsibility for another horse, and all the commitment and expense that entailed was not something I wanted to jump right back into. Yet, friends convinced me to continue riding, and there were lots of horses who needed riders. In fact, one lived right next door.

A family had moved into the horse farm nearby only the year previously. By the time of Maggie’s death, my new neighbour—we’ll call her Alice—had bought a horse for herself but learned through painful trial and error that Whisper was not for her. In the spring following Maggie’s passage, Alice offered to let me ride Whisper occasionally.

She was an entirely different type of horse than Maggie. Where Maggie was sleek and elegant, Whisper was big-boned and solid; where Maggie was excitable and explosive, Whisper was sensible and moved with deliberation; where riding Maggie felt a like floating, I could feel every jarring step Whisper took. Still, my first time on Whisper’s back felt right. It seemed as though she was asking, “how can I work with you to make our ride a good one?” Eventually, my friends began to comment on how well Whisper and I got along. I would respond, “She’s not Maggie, but she’s a good horse.”

One day, as I was grooming Whisper after a ride with Alice, we fell into a conversation. She loved Whisper very much but knew she would never feel confident enough to ride her again. Also, she felt Whisper was too fine a horse to be left standing in the pasture for the rest of her life. Although it hurt to give her up, she knew Whisper needed another owner. Alice said she’d talked it over with her husband and, “We’d almost be willing to give her to you,” she said. “A case of beer and a Toonie would probably do it.”

As she said this, I could feel a kind of silent pull from Whisper, as though she was pleading, “Please be my person…”

Still, I told Alice, “It’s too soon since Maggie. I need time.”

Soon after that conversation, I had a dream. I was in a pasture with all of Alice’s horses and someone was handing out treats, which the horses were taking turns to accept. I was standing beside Whisper, but Maggie was there, too. When it came time for Maggie to take her treat, she stepped forward like the others. But, instead of eating the gift she was given, she brought it to me. I remember thinking inside the dream, “How beautiful that she’s giving me this treat. It’s because she loves me.”

As I awoke, I knew what it meant: Maggie was giving me the “gift” of Whisper, and it was a gift of love. Soon after that, I delivered a case of beer and a two-dollar coin to Alice in exchange for Whisper’s bill of sale. That was eight years ago. Whisper is not Maggie, but I do not want her to be. Whisper is Whisper and what a wonderful partner she is. Together we run faster, go farther, and have more adventures than either of us could ever do on our own. I know, now, that I have been truly blessed with my second “horse of a lifetime”—and I know that Maggie approves.

With Whisper - March 2011
Whisper and Ruth

On Dying and Living to Tell About It

Joan's Blog on Near Death

When we share stories by contributors to The Meaning of Forever book project, love shows up as one of the abiding qualities in the variety of experiences people have with their departed loved ones. This seems to be true of near-death experiences as well, and as Dr. Joan Olinger writes, that feeling of transcendent love and the knowledge that life continues after expiration of the physical body are two lasting benefits cited by those who have died and been brought back to life.

Because near-death experiences are one more way to show that life continues, regardless of whether we have a physical container, The Meaning of Forever Project is also seeking stories about these experiences. Read Joan’s blog below to see how NDE’s can be a source of great comfort in grief and a means for releasing fear.


By Dr. Joan Olinger

What would it be like if you knew for certain that you do not die when your physical body dies; that, Instead, you continue as yourself, with your individuality intact?

We are so fortunate to be living in an age when people can be brought back to life, even after they are clinically dead; that is, when their heart stops beating and they stop breathing. Many of these people have told of their experiences in the time between their physical deaths and their resuscitation.

When my Father passed on a few years ago, I was deeply distressed. My distress was relieved to a great extent, however, when my brother told me that Dad once had a near-death experience after a heart attack. From then on, he was not afraid to die. Knowing of this occurrence gave me great comfort. It was proof that the essential part of my father—some call this soul—continues independently of his physical existence. My brother said our dad’s story helped him lose some of his own fear of death.

In 1975, in his groundbreaking book called Life After Life, Dr. Raymond Moody wrote of accounts by people who had been brought back to life, and he coined the term “near-death experience” (NDE). I read Dr. Moody’s book as a young woman and became very interested in NDE’s (See my May 11, 2017, blog about why The Meaning of Forever Project is so important to me).

About 15 years after reading Dr. Moody’s first book, I met a patient in her forties who had been pronounced dead and been resuscitated. Her near-death experience transformed her life. Having not done anything artistic since Grade 8, she became an artist and a poet, and won contests for her creative work. When I asked what happened during her near-death experience, she said it was very hard to put into words. Then she said she had gone through a tunnel, met with a brilliant, loving light, and that she was “in love” the way she and I were sitting in that room. I took this to mean that she had felt totally surrounded by love.

Dr. Pim van Lommel, a Dutch cardiologist and one of today’s most prominent scientific researchers of near-death experiences, is a contributor to a book called Surviving Death by Leslie Kean. In that book, Dr. van Lommel writes: “The NDE (near-death experience) is almost always transformational, causing enhanced intuitive sensitivity, profound insights and re-evaluations of life, and a loss of a fear of death.”

In his book God and the Afterlife, Dr. Jeffrey Long writes that near-death experiences often include the following: a) an awareness that the experiencer is no longer in their physical body, b) heightened senses, c) going through a tunnel, d) seeing a brilliant light,  e) intense and usually positive emotions, f) going to heaven or otherworldly realms, g) meeting with deceased relatives, friends or mystical beings, h) a review of the person’s life, i) learning special knowledge; and, j) returning to the physical body. He gathered this information scientifically through a questionnaire administered by the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation, which he established.

In the process of working on The Meaning of Forever Project, I have had a chance to read many books, watch some incredible documentaries and talk with several friends who have had near-death experiences. Through this process, I too have lost my fear of death, and I take comfort in knowing that departed loved ones are just fine and enjoying their next existence.

Later, in another blog, I will provide an overview of the books listed below:

John Burke, Imagine Heaven. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2015)

Jeffery Long and Paul Perry. Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences (New York: Harper Collins, 2009)

Jeffery Long and Paul Perry. God and the Afterlife, (New York:  Harper Collins, 2016)

Leslie Kean. Surviving Death: A journalist investigates evidence for an afterlife, (New York: Crown Archetype, 2017)

Pim van Lommel. Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (New York: Harper Collins, 2010)

If you’ve had a near-death experience that has helped you understand the continuation of life, or that has provided solace as you grieve the passing of a loved one, The Meaning of Forever Project would like to hear from you at themeaningofforever@gmail.com. You can find out more about our project on Facebook (here) or our web site (here)

Disclaimer: The books listed here do not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of The Meaning of Forever Project.