Bill Simpson pays tribute to his wife and partner in Wild Horse Ranch, longtime equine advocate Laura Jean Simpson (1955-2019).
After a courageous 10-month battle, Laura J. Simpson passed in the early hours of June 6, fighting for life and breath. Our prayers and positive energy now can be the wind of love lifting her to the heavens.
I was so very privileged to have Laura as my precious friend and wife for nearly 47 years. The monumental loss of her presence in my life and those who knew her is now upon us like the tip of an iceberg. Laura was filled with love, which was evidenced by the grace that readily flowed from her life like a well-spring of pure water. She was a blessing to everyone who met her. Laura was a loving daughter, a mother, a sister, grandmother of five and a friend of wild horses.
Shortly after midnight on June 6, a noble soul traveled on-high when my earth-bound angel passed into the mighty hand of the Lord. I was there holding her hand and talking to her as she was in crisis due to the neurological disease that was gravely complicated by aspiration pneumonia. After displaying uncommon valor in her stewardship of the local wild horses in the face of a terrifying wildfire, Laura was exposed to the little-known toxins in the wildfire smoke that filled the skies of northern California during the Klamathon Fire in July 2018. Laura was made ill and was subsequently hospitalized in Portland, Oregon on September 4. 2018.
By early June 2019, Laura’s team of consulting physicians and caregivers strongly recommended proactive hospice care due to Laura’s dire condition, which even after many months of evaluations, tests and procedures by America’s leading expert medical doctors (several were professors of neurology) rendered no diagnosis or prognosis. Laura was bravely sailing uncharted waters.
The ordeal that Laura endured would have taken the life out of most strong men in a matter of a few months, according to most caregivers. And even at the end, she held on against all odds until all of her immediate family could visit her from across America. She just wouldn’t give up until she could see our children, grandchildren and some of her close friends.
Even nearing what she knew was a certain end, she offered smiles as the people she loved appeared in her room at the care facility, as she did with regularity with all her caregivers. In fact, many of the staff at the facility who loved Laura and spent time crying as they walked the halls.
Even though it’s somewhat unorthodox, I believe that a greater power was at work in all of this and that Laura had to suffer hell to get to heaven and was called by God for an important purpose that both Laura and I believe is related to saving America’s wild horses, wildlife and forests, which Laura spoke of extensively to me and others. Her love of all creation was quietly evidenced by her own actions, not words.
As our daughter Ciara and I caressed Laura’s disease-ravaged body and looked into her eyes during her final moments, I sensed something very powerful and peaceful come over me; it was Laura, and as is her manner and custom, she comforted my pain.
Amazingly, Laura’s heart kept beating for more than five minutes after her lungs gave out and her respiration ceased. This I attribute to the power from all the love that filled her heart.
Laura lived a Christ-like life and demonstrated the virtues of courage, honor, compassion, loyalty, honesty, grace, humility, empathy, charity, respect and forgiveness; she was always a ‘peacemaker’ – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” ~ Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
Laura was generous to a fault and freely gave time to many charitable organizations and efforts. In past decades she regularly read stories and fed the elderly people at the assisted living facility in Oregon City. Laura worked tirelessly to obtain donations of food for the hungry and helped pack food boxes for struggling families with children. Every December she worked with the Salvation Army to obtain toys for donation to children suffering from severe socioeconomic conditions.
Nevertheless, Laura’s life is storied:
Among many amazing adventures; Laura and I sailed together over 50,000 ocean miles, including a mid-winter voyage from Ventura, California to the Columbia River, encountering a full gale with 35-foot seas en route. In 2001, Laura set a world and national record in the women’s bench-press. And in 2014, Laura and I took-up an off-grid lifestyle in the Soda Mountain wilderness living among wild horses, sharing life and breath with them.
But with Laura’s bodily death came victory over the disease, which no longer had a grip on her bright spirit. Over the span of a couple of hours, I witnessed, as did the nurses who loved her, a change in her appearance as her pre-disease beauty was restored. Standing over her, it seemed that if she was tapped on the shoulder, she’d snap out of a daydream. As I stared into her blue eyes, I felt unexpected tranquility enveloping my heart and a deep feeling of pure love; it was healing unto me.
Words cannot properly describe Laura, music comes closer. She made this world and everyone she touched a little better, in some cases, a lot better.
Please consider supporting Wild Horse Fire Brigade (www.WHFB.us) by writing and calling your legislators asking them to begin steps to implementing a large-scale test of the plan.
It will be very hard without Laura on the ground at Wild Horse Ranch, but we must carry on the advocacy for the plan that she inspired.