Little Miss & Lisa, July 31st, 2016. Photo taken by Stacey Whittle & adjusted with a filter.

Heaven can wait…

That is apparently what Little Miss concluded that warm July evening a couple of months ago when her and I laid together on her bed of straw. Her in obvious pain and what appeared to be unbearable suffering, and me sobbing my eyes out in heart-wrenching shock that this — after 34 years of being together in this lifetime – could be the moment… the moment when our illustrious, magical and unexpected, real life Disney story together could be drawing its final curtain.

I struggled to breathe not knowing I could feel something so gut wrenchingly deep, wondering from what previously undiscovered cavern of my being did this emotion come? I just could hardly embrace the fact that this might be the moment. Not that she wasn’t 35 years old and not that I hadn’t started mentally “preparing” for her passing ever since her late 20s. But still. When that moment finally comes, the idea of “preparation” is a total joke.

After an hour of laying there telling her how “good” she’s done in this life and thanking her for the most incredible journey that couldn’t have been any better if we dreamed it, I was ready to do the most selfless thing I ever have done. After desperately contacting Sue Hopple – the Colorado-based animal intuitive who has been an integral part of our relationship for the last seven years — she texted me saying, “Lisa, Little Miss is telling me she is tired and ready to go. But I can feel something is not right in her stomach. Please call the vet now.”

Oh my…

After calling my mom (she was immediately on her way), and then contacting some of my closest friends, I made that call to Ben, our vet, at around 8:15 pm. July 30th, 2016.

“Ben, it’s Lisa Brisse. I really think Miss is dying. She’s in so much pain. I think it might be time to put her down.” I could hardly get the words out through the sobs. He said he’d be right over.

A few minutes later, Mom drove up as Miss laid there. Eyes closed. Breathing labored. We could hardly believe what was happening with our dear sweet girl who had given this family so much joy for so long… How many family pictures? How many memories? How many lives had she touched? How many little kids’ hearts and eyes did she light up giving them their first ride on a horse? How many life lessons did she teach me? All of us? Anyone who knew her? How could this actually be the truth of what we were facing?

My sweet Little Miss laying there on that night, July 30th, 2016.

My sweet Little Miss laying there on that night, July 30th, 2016.

I kept thinking how the two most sacred moments of our life are the moment we’re born into this world and the moment we leave it and to be there for either of those monumental events has to be the most holy of holies for a loved one. I still could hardly contain the emotion of that moment. No cell of my body was exempt from feeling it’s depth.

But little did we know, amidst everything happening right there and then, that Miss was aware and “processing” her own life, reflecting too, and in so doing, she made a decision about her journey. Of course she would have a “say” in it all, as all of our souls do about our time of transition, whether we believe it or not. But in that ever so poignant moment, she clearly decided, quite simply that… Heaven can wait…

One of the many things Miss has shown me in this life is that when you choose to step into your power and you make a decision with the weight of your whole soul behind you, get ready for some magic and miracles…

The Magic & Miracles Begin…

Within minutes at approximately 8:30 pm on that now dark evening, a mysterious car pulled into the driveway in almost stealth-like silence. A Prius? Clearly not Ben’s truck. Mom and I looked at each other. Who is that? Who would be stopping out here in the dark at this time of the night? Maybe someone was lost…

With that, the door opened and a happy, joyful voice rang through the otherwise somber air, “Hey there! I was in the area and just thought I would stop by. How is Little Miss doing?”

The levity and joy of her angelic vibration was such a stark contrast to what was actually happening.

Gabriella? Holistic animal energy healer, Gabriella? We haven’t seen her since Miss’s 35th birthday in May. What on earth is she doing here, in the dark, on a Saturday night, unannounced? Mom and I were dumbfounded. Now? Of all times?

I could hardly get the words out, “Well, I think Little Miss is… dying.”

“Dying?” Gabriella said somewhat perplexed, yet hardly in a worried or scared way, just more out of curiosity.

Before we knew it, there she was walking over to Miss, saying, “Well let’s see what’s going on?” Within seconds, Miss jumped to her feet. Whoa! How did that happen? In that moment, Gabriella was doing what she does, testing different energy points on Miss’s body, checking to see where the energy was flowing and where it was stuck. Immediately she knew there was something not right with her stomach, confirming what Sue, the animal intuitive, had felt all the way in Colorado. Instantly, Gabriella was back to her car getting her “supplies.” Mom and I continued to watch in disbelief. What was going on here?

Before we knew it, Gabriella was squirting a few big doses of probiotics in Miss’s mouth and then, like a sous chef, started chopping carrots on the nearby picnic table, saying so matter of factly that it’s been hot and Miss needs electrolytes. So, there she was making a concoction of carrots and Dynaspark – the mixture of electrolytes that Miss would be munching on within minutes.

While Miss inhaled her carrots with a voraciousness I hadn’t seen all day, Ben pulled up wondering what the status was on Miss. I told him Gabriella had unexpectedly stopped by and felt there was something up with Miss’s stomach, hence, was administering probiotics and electrolytes. Ben kind of chuckled as he and Gabriella have known each other for many years treating horses in the Santa Ynez Valley in their own unique way. His was the more traditional form of westernized medicine, while hers was more of the not-so-conventional kind – energy and crystals. Yep, crystals. Whether either of them agreed with each others’ modalities or not, there was a mutual respect. Regardless, I was profoundly grateful both were there.

So, as Miss continued to scrumptiously chew on her electrolyte-laced carrots, Ben checked her heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs only to say that all looked pretty good. Huh? Looked pretty good? How was that possible? The last week was a week from hell for her.

To recap… in June she bowed her left front tendon. She needed her leg wrapped and was confined to as little movement as possible. She was put on Bute, a pain medication to help her feel more comfortable. In the second week of July, she got a hoof abscess in her other front foot, making it extremely difficult for her to even stand, much less walk! Like anyone who feels sick and under the weather, she laid down most of the day; she didn’t want to move. Unfortunately, those mid-summer days gave us some of the hottest temps (high 90s-low 100s) of the season. Miss was exhausted. She was too tired to even get up to eat or drink which made her weak and dehydrated. Hence, the loss of electrolytes — the mineral components such as sodium, potassium, and calcium that are hugely important for muscle contraction, nerve impulses, hydration and normal cellular function. In essence, my girl was hanging on by a thread, but to top it off, Ben now concluded that she had ulcers, a common side effect of Bute.

Oh no! Talk about the perfect storm! Even if she wanted to eat, it was painful and she just couldn’t. Yet, somehow she knew she had to get those carrots down if she was to have a chance. Ben gave her some Ulcer-guard, a paste that would need to be given daily for at least a week to help protect her stomach, but he also gave her a shot of Banamine (another pain medication) to help her get through the night – anything and everything that could’ve been done on that particular evening.

Of course, Mom and I couldn’t thank Gabriella and Ben enough for being there, especially on a Saturday night. When I was talking to Ben just before he left, I skeptically asked, “so do you think she is going to be okay?” He said, “well, we’ll see how she does for tonight, but I don’t believe tonight is the night to put her down. However, you did the right thing by calling me. I know it’s hard to think about, but you owe her that if and when the time comes. You don’t want her to thrash around in suffering. She’s given you so much in this life.”

Needless to say, that brought tears. A love so deep that it is willing to let go. For any of you who have pets – or even with our human loved ones – you know the kind of love we are talking about here…. it’s as big and selfless as it gets. It’s a love so vast that even the human heart can’t contain it.

With that said, I was nervous to wake up the next morning. What would I see? How would she be? Still here in this body, or…?

I was preparing myself for the worst.

But there she was – her sweet self — in the bright morning light laying in her bed of straw. It was that cute, cute face looking like a little lamb, just born, waking up to the new world. And the truth is – not even knowing it at the time – she was. Somewhere in the night, she made that decision. She looked at that Heavenly pasture across the thin veil between life and the afterlife and decided, no… not at this time; not now; there is more to do.


Little Miss on that glorious sunny morning, July 31st, 2016. Josh, her beloved companion, standing in the background. He stood with her the whole time.

And in that moment, she was reborn, in a way. Quite simply, she chose to stay here. And with the same strong, determined spirit she exuded her entire life, particularly when we’d run up those hills back in the day (with me on her back), she made the decision to recover… to keep living. To choose joy. And like those hills, it didn’t matter how tired she was. It was her joy and love for life that would keep her digging deeper and deeper into her heart, to find yet another gear of strength that would somehow propel her to the top every time. I remember feeling scared in those moments wondering if her heart would explode and she’d die underneath me. But then I’d hear her say, “Life is not to be feared, Lisa. It is not to be run away from, rather toward… with all that you have to give. To live any other way is not living, just existing.”

Remember that phrase, “feel the fear and do it anyway”? That’s Miss. In a nutshell. But truth is, she doesn’t even feel the fear, just the joy. And when we embrace the joy, miracles happen. Life transforms and so do we.

And this is what happened. Once Miss made the decision that Heaven would have to await her presence — at least for a little while longer — nothing short of a relatively fast, unexplainable, and miraculous recovery occurred. That next week, she summoned the various angels needed – loving and caring neighbors, Gabriella and her crystals, her farrier to take good care of her feet, Mom’s love, of course, but also the love of all of those praying for her, following her story on Facebook. All of it came together because she called it forth. She opened herself to the village for help. And the village came while she graciously received the life force back into her cells.

The Miracle of Our Body & Healing…

Now, here is what I have learned over the years and what I know to be true: The Divine Spark can heal us all almost instantaneously when we open ourselves to receiving it. In fact, it reminds me of my Grandma Angie who passed on in 2007, but only after three of the most amazing years of her life. Just like Miss, she too was on her deathbed in 2003. I remember going to visit her in Minnesota thinking, without question, that it was the last time I would see her alive. I awaited “that call” here in California, and yet that call never came. Other than calls from my family of a miraculous recovery that no one could explain. No one.

After suffering from diabetes, heart issues, obesity, and emphysema that required her to be on oxygen, my grandma decided she was going to live. She took the oxygen tube out of her nose – the lifeline that was vital to stay on this planet for nearly ten years – and told the nurses she was choosing life. In the next seven months, she breathed on her own, lost 80 pounds, while her diabetes and heart issues virtually disappeared. In addition, she dyed her hair red, threw on her jewelry and looked and felt like she was 20 years younger! No one in our family could believe it.


Grandma Angie, 2005

What happened? Being so close to death and having all the strikes against her, how was that even possible? Yet, what I have learned from my grandma’s example and also knowing the miraculous resilience of our body and it’s desire to heal, it is absolutely possible when we choose to drop our story of the past and instead, choose to live fully in the present… with joy. It happens when we choose to embrace life, 100%, because we WANT to be here and are ready to let go of the destructive beliefs, behaviors and patterns that no longer serve us, and instead are holding us back.

The body follows our lead. It follows our desires. It just depends on what we really want. Do we still find the joy in life? Are we still open for new experiences no matter what age? Or do we believe age determines our destiny and experience? Do we believe in the limiting beliefs that somehow have gotten imbedded like a cancer cell in the collective soul of humanity, depleting our life force on a day-to-day basis, even though most, if not all of it, is not even the truth of who we are?

Miss knows this. She also knows that miracles happen when we embody our Divine Truth and step into life with all of our heart and all of our desire, while opening our minds to the wonderment of little children. In other words, even though that night she had the opportunity to cross over Rainbow Bridge and join two of her dearest companions from this life – her soulmate, Sultan, as well as her dear friend, Peaches, the cat – apparently, she wasn’t ready to leave her physical existence just yet.

Because… Heaven can wait.

Miss always happy to see friendly visitors who came to lift her spirits.

Miss always happy to see friendly visitors who came to lift her spirits.

And in that moment, the life that had previously been slipping away from her precious body, started to come back and so did the various modalities that allowed herself and her health to step “back in.” From some new nutritional supplements (microbes), crystal and energy healings with Gabriella, to a cushioned hoof boot that allowed her the confidence to walk again with minimal pain, but also her own intuitive healing sense which included her insistence on eating alfalfa despite her lack of molars to chew and stomach ulcers which prevented her from eating anything, she just kept getting up. She just kept stepping into each moment with a desire to get better.

Curious by her unusual determination to eat the alfalfa given her lack of teeth, I looked up the best treatment for ulcers only to be shocked to find alfalfa is key because of the high calcium content which helps to absorb the stomach acid! What? How did she know? She just did. She was and is in tune to the Divine guidance that lives within all of us and knows what we need each moment to heal and come back into wholeness.

Miss has demonstrated something in the last couple of months that no one can really explain – an illogical, “rise from the ashes” kind of recovery; we are all in awe. I remember a little over a month ago when I put her and Josh together in the same pasture for the first time since June – the sign that she was feeling good enough to move around with him – I was looking at her in disbelief, still reliving the scary images of what was so real only a month before and I could feel her saying to me, “Why are you still dwelling on that? That was then. It’s over. This is what is happening now. We are here NOW.”

Miss & Josh back in the pasture together... like old times.

Miss & Josh back in the pasture together… like old times.

It was like she wanted me to know that we, humans, dwell way too much on the past and “what could’ve been” and need to remember that all of life, regardless of what’s happened before or what might happen tomorrow, is still and always will be only about right now. Her and Josh were certainly fully present in the “Right Now.” They stood under their tree as peaceful as always with no inkling that life had been anything other than that for years.


Gabriella gave me some insight into her healing realm. She said, “Most of life on this planet is in the 3rd dimension, a slower vibration (talking quantum physics, here). Little Miss is of the 5th dimension… a very high vibrational being, so for a being like her, the traditional 3rd dimensional modalities like medications can actually slow the healing process down. The crystals and energy work, on the other hand, is of the 5th dimension… the vibration that Miss is, so that is why her body responds so quickly.”

I admit, I’ve been exploring the spiritual realm my whole life. I’ve read everything and anything to learn about the true nature of our beings, so what Gabriella was saying wasn’t necessarily new to me, but it still can be hard for my programmed limited human mind to understand it all. But what I do know is that Miss understands it and I also know she is still here to deliberately demonstrate and show us all what is possible, no matter what age or circumstance. She has never been one to be put in a box as my mom and I have learned that many times over the years with her. As soon as you think one thing, she will almost immediately show you something different until you surrender your beliefs and open your mind and heart to receiving a bigger truth — the infinite grace of the Divine that we all are… the magic and miraculous of the life force itself.

Continuing on those lines of “how is this possible?”, a couple of weeks ago Miss did a gallop with a few bucks and kicking up her heels of pure joy to show me how good she felt. I haven’t seen that in years and wondered if I was seeing things. Nope. It was real. And the following weekend, I rode her for the first time since her 35th birthday in May. Just for 20 minutes, but it was something she wanted to do. I know her so well and I could feel it. Who would’ve ever imagined? No one, except maybe her. I actually feel her having “fun” showing us what is possible these days. I haven’t been writing for 25 years about all that she has taught me for nothing. It only continues as she just keeps reminding us that life is what we choose it to be in every single moment. And in the present, absolutely anything is possible. Anything. Life is just a set of experiences.

Yes, it certainly is.

 In Conclusion…

…I must share one more thing, because for me, it is the biggest point of all.

For the last ten years (when it first dawned on me that Miss could officially be considered an “older” horse), I admit I have lived with a cloud of anticipatory anxiety and fear of her eventual and impending transcendence to the other side. I will be honest. Even though I have made every effort to remind myself to stay present and to not let that looming cloud block the sunshine of enjoying every moment with her, it has been difficult. It’s natural to wonder what that kind of loss would look and feel like. What would the emotions of that “moment” be? Would my heart be able to take it?

Up until now, I wasn’t sure… and it scared me. I never led on, but it was there. And of course, I never wanted Miss to know, which is funny, because as I have learned through the numerous animal intuitive sessions over the years, animals are aware of EVERYTHING; there is nothing we can hide from them. Zero. Zilch. Nada. They might as well be X-Rays because they can see and feel right through our outward facades. The joke is on us. So, of course, she was aware.

Looking back now, I knew Miss felt this from me and wondered how she could release me of that burden so that I, too, could fully step into each moment with her with the utmost joy instead of being oppressed by the paralyzing weight of fear.

On that dark night in July, she gave me the most profound gift. She took me there; she took me to the edge with her and was right by my side. She let me look through that window — to have a glimpse — of life in this physical realm without my sweet girl. She let me feel it… the fear, the sadness, the sorrow, the grief, the loss, the depth of the abyss… all of it. She let me sob, nearly convulsing at the thought of actually letting her go… letting her cross over that bridge. She took me to my worst fear and ironically, in what appeared to be her “weakest moment,” she embraced me. And in so doing, took me to the other side with her, but not the other side of life, rather to the other side of my fear – the biggest thing that actually keeps us from living our life NOW. For fear, in and of itself, is death alone…

And on the other side of our worst fear is peace – the beautiful gift of surrender — by recognizing that after the storm passes, we’re still here. Alive. Breathing. Life continues and so do we. She allowed me to see that, but also, more importantly, to know it in my heart.

Interestingly enough, ever since that moment, that cloud has gone. Not to say that one day, one moment, Miss won’t leave her body and seamlessly transition fully into the spiritual realm, but no longer do I have to worry. No longer do I have to fear the fear itself. And instead, now we both can get back to the business of living. As she basically said to me in the last couple of weeks, “Are we ready to get back to the ride of our life?”

Miss and me running on the beach

Me & Little Miss on her 30th birthday at the beach in Santa Barbara, CA. May, 2011. Photo Credit: Stacey Whittle             Click on the image above to view the video of that glorious day. <3

And the journey continues… <3


Again, thank you to all of you who have sent your love, prayers, and support in one form or another to Little Miss! She clearly wants to be here! And of course, a big thank you always to Mike & Susan Shillinger for offering their piece of Santa Ynez Valley paradise as Little Miss’s home for 27 years!

NOTE: For those of you who didn’t get a chance to read the prequel to this part of our journey – my blog post: In Sickness & in Health, A Heartfelt Walk Through Love & ReflectionCLICK HERE