Saying goodbye

There have been many times on the blog, I haven't spoken about death. I recently touched on it briefly with the passing of my senior Flemish Giant, Fortune, but many times I haven't. Not because I feel it's a topic to be avoided, but because sometimes, it's just to difficult for me to write about... to difficult for me to express my emotions properly, in a way people would be able to understand.

It's part of life, and it's part of sharing your life with animals, especially when you have so many. But it doesn't make it any easier.

For the past month I've watched my Pygmy, Hilda, slow down. She's very old. She was one of two of my first goats. In my heart I knew what it meant, but I avoided the idea that she might soon be leaving me and just let myself carry on thinking she'd have a long time to just be old and slower... no problem. If she wanted to stay in the barn, that didn't bother me. If she wanted me to bring her food, water, and everything to her... no problem. In winter, I'm always hopeful the old ones will see one more spring, enjoy the fresh grass one more time, the fresh fruit, and in the fall, the apples and pumpkins.

But I knew her slowing down didn't really mean she'd have another year with me... I just pretended.

Kahlil Gibran's book,  "The Prophet" is probably one of the most beautiful books ever written. Every time I read even just a page, the feelings that envelope me are overwhelming. I look now to the part of the story where they ask of death.

"And he said:

You would know the secret of death.
 But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
 The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of the light.
 If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; 
and like the seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honor.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? 
And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from it's restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

I'll miss her with all my heart. I'll miss her grumpy side, her playful side, her sometimes seen sweet side... I'll miss how much she enjoyed stuffing her face into a good pumpkin and watermelon, and how she doted over everyone's kids in the spring.

I'll miss seeing her playfully beating up Max, 115 pound dog, and I'll miss her little tiny baa that always stood apart from everyone else's.

In my heart, those memories will remain. But our family has changed, the Grandmother of my goat herd has passed, and while we all are shedding tears for her... I'll think of her in the spring when the leaves start returning to the trees, and again in the fall when the apples start falling to the ground. 


Chai Chai said…
A very powerful and beautiful tribute, so long as you remember her she isn't truly gone.
jaz@octoberfarm said…
this was so wonderful. i am so sorry for your pain. i know it all too well!
You cared for her well in her life. It's a sadness that you choose when you love an animal.
Take care.
Dreaming said…
This is so sad, but you have written about it so beautifully... you have brought a different perspective.
Bless you. You have shared some great memories!
Mary Ann said…
She's always going to be there, just over the crest of the hill... and every time you see a new baby.
I'm so sorry.
I am so sorry for your loss. No matter how they come into our lives or how long they are with us, they leave a hole in our hearts.
I'm so sorry. And it is hard writing about our losses at times.

I've been nursing one of the beagles. And one of my elder cats is not doing so good.

I know you'll miss her.
Beverly said…
I think of this so often...with so many animals....knowing that eventually I will bid each one of them farewell. There is a poem that I love....

Tis a Fearful Thing

It is a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.

A fearful thing
to love, hope, dream:

to be--

to be,
And! to lose.

A thing for fools, this,

a holy thing,

a holy thing
to love.

For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings painful joy.

'Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing,
to love
what death has touched.


Your tribute is beautiful....I am sorry for your loss.
We never forget our loved ones, and living on in our memories is one of the greatest gifts. I am so sorry for your loss, but your Hilda had a wonderful life with you, to be sure!

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