I had a dream last night that Tess stood up and walked away. Visually, it was like a flip book. Tess in a white space taking this simple action. There was something ethereal about it. When I woke up, I thought, either Tess is better or she died.
But it wasn’t that simple. She was no better this morning than last night. At one point, while we waited for the vet to come, she did stand up, but only for a few minutes before sinking back down to the ground. After the Vet tried a few things, releasing gas from her stomach using a needle then a tube down her throat, I knew it was time to put her down. She was in pain and the procedures were not working, only giving her more pain.
It was Tess’ time. She died quickly and quietly. Lauren, the vet, determined she had some internal bleeding that could have been caused by many different things, we’ll never know for sure.
Tess was the first sheep I ever had. She was friendly and sweet and was always trying to eat my jewelry and hair. She had white spots on her nose, and soft cocoa wool. I cried before we put her down and I’ll miss her. Tess ushered me into the world of sheep in a gentle and welcoming way. She was the doorway, the threshold. The first sheep that I was responsible for, somewhere between a pet and a farm animal. That bond woke up a part of me that I craved but feared. So with Tess’ death come a passage for me also. She lived and died well under my care. She taught me that I’m capable of learning how to care for and live with an animal that I’d had no previous experience with. That I make good decisions. That being responsible for a life isn’t a burden but a joy. And even when it’s difficult, I’d still rather have it than not. It’s part of being alive, of being a fully human. It is life.
And sometime, in the next couple of weeks, Daryl, the farmer who gave me Tess, will bring a ram. And in the spring we’ll have lambs. And I’ll name the first ewe lamb Tess.