Today on our little homestead we lost a baby chick. Always hard for all of us. The event reminded me of a piece of free writing I did three years ago. As I wrote it, I was imagining my daughter as the writer of the passage... in the future, grown. Let me know what you think-
My mother buried so many animals up in our tangled woods, on the bank by our pond, out in the grassy area past the sheds... After she herself died, I would see the shadow of her sometimes heading up the fern-lined bank with that old shovel in her hand. She wasn't smiling, but there was a peacefulness about her. This was her place.
In life, she never understood why so many animals came to her to share those moments of Death. It broke her heart. Nonetheless, she bore witness. She was a steward to them, cradling them, talking to them, offering Love.
I didn't understand either. Not until now. Not until she too had passed on...
Each one -each mouse, raccoon, opossum, hummingbird, pigeon, chicken, rabbit, grouse, squirrel, fox, duck, chicken, dog or cat - had been the closing of a chapter, nothing other. A sacred transition. To our human heart, jarring. But perhaps not so in other realms.
Today, I am a little sobered to think that it continues to be some part of my mother's work to carry a shovel, and lay to rest those quiet souls who have ventured on. But I'm guessing it is a sacred purpose, and some part of her spirit will ever companion others at such important moments, now and forever eternal.
Others who I've known do not come by their sacred purpose easily. Some do not even recognize the need within themselves to identify it. In this realization, I find comfort about the work of my mother. In this realization, I too find a new peacefulness.
Her friend, Mason, I heard once tried to explain it to her, after a terrible moment in time when three baby bunnies died in her keep: "A thought comes to me," he told her, "may I share it? ...That care you give, to the animals, it may sound harsh but it doesn't matter whether they reach maturity or not while in your keep. It doesn't matter whether or not they pass on. What matters is that you are building bridges, between humans and animals... bridges that have for a long time been forgotten or broken down, or overlooked. You are rebuilding them. The love you offer those animals, in the times that you share with them, that is truly all that matters. That is the essence that transcends, lives on, creates the building blocks of those bridges that are taking us, as humans, to a new place of connection with all of them, the animals. It's like you are returning us to who we are. And it is the love that is the bridge, nothing more, nothing less. It is simply the love. You are a healer and a messenger, and God blesses what you do."
Love. During those altering, sometimes fearful, moments, it may be all we can offer. And my mother knew that. Perhaps so many animals died while with her, because it was then their place to take that Love to the next realm; to carry it forward and send the message on.
Toting her shovel, on those difficult days, my mother may not have ever smiled. But I can do so now, on her behalf. Peace to you too, Mom. Peace to you, too.