Gentle, loving and affectionate, grumpy and pushy and territorial, our sweet donkey Simon. His death yesterday was so unexpected. I’m sure you all know about it by now. Jon told the story so well on his blog in pictures and words.
Jon and I sat with Simon for about and hour and a half, waiting for the Vet to come. Jon and I both knew he was dying, that the Vet would just help him along. Simon was struggling, it seems he had a stroke, and I like to believe he took comfort in our being with him. I know there’s no place I would rather have been. It was a transition time. A time to come to terms with what was happening. I imagine, in his way, Simon was doing the same, making the transition from this life to whatever comes next. For me, I got to think about Simon’s life with us and what he meant to me and to so many other people.
And still, it all happened so quick, just a matter of hours from the time I saw there was something wrong with him ( he wasn’t eating, a sure sign of a problem with Simon) till our neighbor Vince, pushed the soil over him with his backhoe and placed a rock at the top of his grave under the apple tree. And yet so much happened in those few hours. Once again I witnessed the strong connection between Jon and Simon. Not something I can speak of intellectually, but something I could feel. A depth and level of emotion that was unique to him and Simon. Something shared.
And I was very aware of all the people who Simon touched, just by being him. So many people loved him, came to visit him over the years he lived with us, and I knew they too would be sad at his passing. But I also thought it a bit of a miracle that one donkey could bring such joy to so many people. I could see it even just the people who came to help while he was dying and afterwards. They came for Simon and for us. Again, one donkey and so many people.
As I sat with Simon in the pasture, I couldn’t help but think that our time with him was ending. But, at the same time I thought that with ending come beginnings. And that death, though sad, was also an opening for something new to happen. And I realized that in this way I felt differently about death than I have in the past.
So Simon taught me something about death, but he also taught me to love and appreciate life in a way I didn’t understand before knowing him. It happened the first time I heard him bray. He was so sick when we first saw him, I was ready to put him down, to keep him from suffering anymore. But he had something in him, a spark, a desire to live. And weeks later, still bone skinny with only spotty patches of hair on his blackened rain rot skin, as I walked into the pasture he looked at me stretched out his neck and let out a loud and squeaky bray, his call to life. And for the first time in my life, I understood what people meant when they said that life is a gift. Somehow, his desire for life, something that I thought would have been much easier for him to just give up, made me understand that life is not to be taken lightly.
Simon was with us for about five years. I was sure he’d be a more permanent part of the farm. But we were really only a part of his life and he a part of our for a short time. And yet, what a giant presence he was. In good ways and in some not so good ways. I don’t have to go outside the feel how the farm has an emptiness about it. The feeling of something missing. No more morning brays, but a quiet time. This morning as I fed Lulu and Fanny a carrot, I got the feeling from them that things were back to normal again. That to them, Simon being here was an interruption in the way things are.
We were good for Simon and he was good for us. I miss his big loving soul and his willingness and need to be loved back. And I’m grateful we were able to come together for this time in our lives, when we all needed it most.
I couldn’t write about Simon yesterday, it was all to close, too soon. Even now, I feel like there’s so much more I’m feeling about him that I can’t quite put into words. So this will have to do for now. I know Simon isn’t really gone for me, that he lives on in my heart and I believe, will to be present my life again, in ways I can’t yet imagine.