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Red Coated Messenger
by Shelly Guidotti

It appeared to be a typical summer evening, one of my favorite times to ride. I chose the gray gelding, for he had some jumping skills and that evening I had decided to relive some of my childhood days.

My first pass over the jump and my heart raced with excitement. I even laughed out loud. What a glorious time! That is, until the pain hit. It began in the back of my head, then progressed down my spine. I became slightly alarmed for I had never experienced this type of pain. The horse was sweaty and I needed to cool him out, plus the rest of the nine horses I boarded still needed to be fed. But minute by minute, I was becoming weaker as the pain became stronger.

I managed to finish caring for the animals. Then I literally dragged myself to the house with the pain becoming excruciating. Still trying to convince myself that it was probably nothing, I called my sister who was a nurse.

Suddenly I heard a voice inside me say, "You may die"!

I dialed 911 and I heard the dispatcher asking me questions but as I tried to respond, I began to have a seizure and could not speak without incomprehensible slurring.

The hospital doctor spoke to my husband with painful certainty, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but Shelly has suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and we do not expect her to live through the night. Her brain is too swollen to perform any surgery and there is nothing more we can do. She is in a coma and on life support."

Needless to say, they were wrong about that night and about the next two weeks. But as I lay there in a coma, a beautiful experience happened to my husband, and then to me.

A beautiful Irish Setter appeared one day at our home, seemingly out of nowhere. He was not a dog anyone had seen before. Undeniably gorgeous, a perfectly groomed red coat and was of a stocky build. His head was very majestic and wide unlike the usual Irish Setters we'd known. He had this look of deep wisdom and just his presence offered a calming comfort.

Certainly a beauty like this must be lost from his home. He stayed next to my husband's side offering strength and comfort. However, he would disppear each night from our fenced yard, then reappear on our front porch in the morning.

Hoping to bring me out of my coma, my husband brought and played recorded tapes to the hospital. They were tapes of all our pets "talking" in the morning as they anxiously awaited to be fed. And yes, even the mysterious Irish Setter was there -- barking right along with everybody else.

Where did he go at night? And why does he always return? Signs and ads were placed for a rightful owner to claim him but no one responded. It was very shortly after this dog appeared that I miraculously awoke from my coma. In the name of this miracle, the dog was named "Lucky".

After a month's hospital stay, I returned home extremely weak and frail, yet determined. It was my turn to meet Lucky. He was much more beautiful than I imagined and he soon became my shadow instead of my husband's. What a comfort this dog was. I can still feel it. But the same routine continued each night. He would disappear and reappear in the morning on the front porch. We could not begin to find a place where he could be getting out.

I was recovering nicely and one night as I lay in bed, I asked that Lucky be brought into my room to sleep with me. Now I could be sure he wouldn't get out.

I fell into a deep comforting sleep knowing he was there next to me. When I awoke the next morning, he was gone. I checked with everyone in the house and no one had seen him and no one had opened my bedroom door.

He was not on the front porch. He was nowhere to be found. It took me quite a while to accept his permanent departure, until I realized what a blessing his presence had been for us. Gone, but never forgotten, this messenger in the beautiful red coat.

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Besides writing and singing commercial music, including a top 30 chart single, Shelly has written and performed award winning songs for special organizations, jingles and corporate affairs. Without exception, writing for that one moment which reaches inside and touches the heart of the listener is genuinely her favorite writing experience... and what she does best. She resides in Clovis, California, with her husband, 2 dogs, 2 horses, 7 chickens, and a wild turkey. You can visit her website which specializes in gift CD's at Song Images