December 27th, and it’s gray. The Midwest has a way of graying out during the month of November and staying gray until February. Days like today, it looks mostly the same outside at 8:00 am that it does at 4:00 in the afternoon.
I’ve been feeling as gray as today’s sky. I think we all have times like this, times when each day is just a push from morning to night, an effort to get from the start of your day to the finish in one piece. If I’m being completely honest, 2015 has been one of the most difficult years on record for me. I’ve felt in chaos more than I’ve felt safe, and more days have proved a struggle than I care to admit. It’s easy to get lost in that, forget that everything with a beginning eventually has an end.
But, right now, I’m just in the middle of my chaos, and I’m feeling a little lost.
Yesterday, I made the call to have one of our older llamas euthanized. Hokatika had taken a turn on Christmas Eve, laying down and being unable to stand back up again. Our vet made the thirty-five minute trek to our farm without a second thought. Such is the life of a country vet I suppose, being called into work on your day off only to act as the angel of death. He asked her weight, and I guessed; I couldn’t weigh her, but it didn’t matter. The euthanasia drug is an overdosed sedative. We couldn’t hurt her with too little (we would only give more) or too much.
Jeremiah held her head while doc administered the shot. She flinched against the needle, but only a bit. I stood outside the stall hoping she knew she was loved, knew that we were sorry for the needle, a last small discomfort I couldn’t spare her. Once the shot was administered, it wasn’t long before she was gone. Doc checked her heartbeat, murmured a few words about our camelid nursing home, and stood up to wash his hands and pack up his things.
I knew I made the right call, that I gave her a measure of grace in the end, and I didn’t cry this time, though I felt the tears well up more than once.
We finished up chores and went about our day. She passed quietly, and I mourned her quietly as I finished cleaning stalls. She’s the fifth large animal we lost this year, the third euthanasia. It’s a kindness, I know, but every time I make that call, I feel a deep sense of sorrow. It’s no small thing to take a life, even when it’s done to prevent further suffering.
Hokatika was remarkable in her quiet way. She was one of the best mothers on the farm, even adopting orphan babies when the occasion arose. She was curious, always the first to investigate new animals or happenings. She like apples and loved grain. I called her hokey-poke, and I will miss her. Hers is a bittersweet absence, and my heartache is lessened by knowing that I made it as easy as possible and that I didn’t wait too long.
For the first time I am looking forward more to the New Year than I did to Christmas. I’ve been thinking about the symbolic clean slate that the new year brings with it, and I’ve been feeling desperate for it. Four days, and the year is over; four days, and we start something entirely new. I’m ready for something new.
But, even in the middle of the chaos, even at the end of my worst year, there is so much to be thankful for. Today I’m thankful for Hokey’s quiet end and remarkable self. Even in the bad, there is good.
We watched movies and drank wine last night. When I finished my first glass, Jeremiah asked if I wanted more.
“Hokatika is dead,” I responded, passing my glass to be refilled.
Salut to my girl, I thought, lifting the dry red wine to my lips and taking another sip.
20 thoughts on “Season of Gray”
I read a blog the other day-and can’t remember which one-but it said that some years are full of questions and some are full of answers. It seems like this year had a lot of questions and I hope 2016 delivers some answers to you 🙂
I have felt the same about New Years. I’m just ready for it to start already!
That’s a beautiful way to look at it. Thank you for that
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Cherity, I am sorry about your loss… and for the difficulties this past year has presented. Sometimes answers come quickly and other times it may be years before we have understanding. We experience many things in this life so that we may have understanding. Your compassionate and loving nature is one of the gifts that results in the experience. Hokey was also a gift in your life… and you treated her with loving hands and great compassion.
I hope too, that 2016 will be a happier year for all of us.
Thank you, Lori, for your thoughtful comments and insight. You have been a blessing to me in 2015 more than once.
And here’s hoping to a better, happier 2016
To a certain extent, I can say that I feel your pain. But you never can really feel another’s pain, can you? We lost two cats this year. We had them for thirteen years. Our third cat seems to be in mourning for her brother. As the year comes close to an end, I am feeling the loss of those two. And I am overcome with great sadness. Soon it will be a new year. Soon this sadness will pass. But for now, I find myself grieving for those two companions.
They always leave a hole in our lives. I’m sorry for you loss as well. Thirteen years is a long time.
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So sorry for your loss. Though we no longer farm, I remember the loss of our camelid family members keenly. Here’s to a better new year.
Thanks. I appreciate that
Cherity, I completely agree with you that “taking a life is no small thing, even if it’s to prevent further suffering.” I’m so sorry about Hokey. I’ve also had challenging years and can relate to some degree. Just remember, you are stronger than your most difficult days. You will emerge and embrace joy once again. Thinking of you. Here’s to fresh starts! Happy New Year!! 🙂 xo 🍷
Happy New Year. And thank you.
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Thank you. 🙂
Also, thanks for the note you sent earlier this week. It was just the reminder my brain needed to sit down and write something
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It was good to hear from you. 😊
Thank you for being there and for putting Hokatika first with all the other turmoil in your life. She meant so much to me.
When she was delivered I wasn’t home and the guy who brought her from Oregon put her in a small jerry-rigged panel area in a dark corner of the barn. She was so scared and I was so mad that anyone would do that to a youngster.
When she went down with heat stress I took all the moms and babes from that spring to the U of I and drove there every day for almost a month to feed them and to do physical therapy on Hokatika. We put her in a water bath and I moved her legs, as well as working with her in her stall. She finally got up once I convinced the staff to take her outside in the grass.
I always wanted to teach her to do the hokey-pokey.
Did you know she was named for a city in New Zealand?
Remember when we tried to give Master of Disguise to Nicola, and Hokatika came running up to the fence calling to him? Give him an extra hug to for me.
How could I forget? We found him sitting right next to Nicola. I think we put him in with the wrong mom for a good half an hour
I am sorry for your loss and for your difficult year, but I will offer this thought to ponder;
I think when our hearts get broken, it is so a place opens for another.
I lost a favorite dog two years ago. She was my best animal friend. I cried like a baby when she died. Now, an adopted dog named Cinch has become my best pal. I will never forget my old friend, but Cinch is now very dear to me.
I married my childhood sweetheart and we grew apart, sad yes…but I will celebrate my 24th wedding anniversary with my second wife in August…she is my whole world and I would not have found her had it not been for my broken heart. So, cheer up lass, all will be well soon.
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Thanks. I think you may be right