Sweet Simon

Jon and Simon (1)

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.


21 thoughts on “Sweet Simon

  1. Gentle hug to you Maria. Our animal friends and sojourners seem to never be here long enough. Thank you and Jon for sharing your journey and hearts with us. I have grown much and stretched both my heart and logic-spaces for meaning of death/dying, for the co-experience of joy & pain, due in large part to your writing about Simon and your blogs.
    When you are ready, here is a good morning ‘call to life’ for our little farm family (and neighbors) from our donkey companion, Sam, I took this morning. I’d told him about Simon while reading the book recently. I shared about his passing as he ate his afternoon treat of a ginger snap last night, his favorite cookie. He chewed, listened and begged for another. I thought this might bring a smile and somehow offer a donkey celebration of life. Bless you and Jon. I know life will fill up the hole left with Simon’s departure. He already knows who is next…and nods his head and smiles with his big ears as only a donkey can.

  2. I feel so lucky to have met Simon at two of your open houses. I am so glad you were there with him in the end. How lucky he was to leave this world in your and John’s loving arms. He was such a special creature.

  3. This is beautiful, Maria. Love the photo too. I’m so so grateful that you and Jon have shared your journey with Simon. Such a profound journey that will leave a lasting effect on me, and I know others, for a very long, long time. Simon was such an amazing gift. He truly was.

    May peace and happy memories find their way to your and Jon’s hearts and live on in the name of dear, sweet, Simon.

  4. You expressed it well Maria. Simon brought joy to so many that never saw him or touched his soft nose. We loved him too! He touched many lives. He will not be forgotten! Sending peace and love to you and Jon.

  5. Powerful words Maria, beautifully written. I was so saddened to hear of Simon’s passing and shed a few tears this afternoon reading Jon’s words. I’ve been reading his blog for years and yours as well.

    I really wanted to thank you for the photo of Jon saying goodbye to Simon. An amazing photo that truly caught the moment for me and actually gave me much peace.

    Thank you both for sharing your lives with us in such an intimate way.

  6. Beautiful thoughts. Thank you for writing this. I am sorry to learn of Simon’s death, but glad to know you and Jon were with him until the end.

  7. Oh Maria, I’m so glad to know you & Jon were with him. He lovingly touched so many people. Tears of Love & Loss.

  8. Oh Maria, your post made me cry…I so enjoyed reading about Simon, loved hearing him bray..but death is part of life and he sure had a good one living on your farm…he will be missed by many…

  9. Maria – What a beautiful tribute to Simon. Your statements about what he taught you about life “not to be taken lightly” and death are very profound and really touched my heart. Peace and love to you and Jon.

  10. Dear Maria, I know at this moment your blog is filling up with replies to this jolting, sad news. But I am most struck by the depth and the beauty of your writing about Simon’s impact on your life. Thank you so very much. Annie

  11. Your post was beautiful Maria as have been all the posts written by Jon.Keep an eye on him as I would imaginge this one was particularily difficult.I know all will move on and I thank you and Jon for helping us to do that.Thanks to Simon to for all he gave us.He will be missed!

  12. I’m grateful to you and Jon for your generosity with letting Simon belong to all of us. My heart aches with yours. I will think often about Simon and his great good spirit and the lessons in compassion and forgiveness he taught us. He may have had his grumpy times but he also had true joie de vivre. Dear Simon, I miss you. May you run in green pastures on legs free of pain and lie in fields of daisies under an apple tree. It was my unforgetable privilege to feel your donkey lips as you ate carrots from my hand and to kiss you on that soft nose.

  13. Right on Maria!
    We loved Simon immensely, mourn his passing and are ever so grateful he was here even for these past five short years. He made us laugh and cry and the connections he built amongst us are powerful indeed! He is in our hearts forever.
    Love to you both (to all of you at the Farm actually),
    From Fran

  14. Maria, I’m glad you posted about Simon as I’m sure Jon’s inbox and yours has been flooded with concern. With animals, death can happen in an instant (I realize also with humans). I’ve had two dogs have strokes in front of me. It’s scary. I’ve had a dog who ate her breakfast and two hours had an effusion (she had hemangiosarcoma, which I wrote about on my B&B website under Australian Shepherds). Their deaths are as much about the health issue as it is about the shock of it all. A stroke can take an animal out in no time. That’s when you begin to think…humans can survive after a stroke…but animals, if they can’t stand to go to the bathroom, are done for.
    I’m in the middle of reading Simon’s story right now. It’s all the more poignant given what happened two days ago. Sandy Proudfoot

  15. Thank you for sharing, Maria. Your words are beautiful. Energy does not disappear but only changes form so I have no doubt that Simon’s energy will be present if you stay open to it. Change is so hard for many of us, but you and Jon seem to be mastering the art of living with impermanence. I learn from you. Thank you.

    I think that some of the most powerful lessons in life come to us through the animals we interact with. Who knew a fuzzy, mischievous and loving donkey could have such an impact. That, in itself, is a lesson.

    Sending hugs…

  16. Maria, your beautiful words bring tears to my eyes. But then, I have been getting teary on and off every time I read Jon’s words and see the beautiful pictures that both of you have posted. Simon was a unique animal; I suppose all animals have their own uniqueness, but his was something so special, something different, something almost otherworldly. His spirit was bigger than life. It was something intangible that allowed him to connect with millions of people who saw his pictures and read yours and Jon’s blogs. Something about him touched people’s souls.
    There is a picture of Simon in Jon’s book, Saving Simon. It comes before the second chapter I think. It is a picture of Simon with his head stuck over the fence and I swear that sweet donkey has a smile on his face. He seemed to love life. What a gift…to be able to recover from all of that neglect and still be open to the mysteries of life.
    I think that is one of the things that made him so special, his joie de vivre, his love of life. That donkey loved life.
    One could see the connection between Jon and Simon. One could see the connection every time Jon posted a photo of you with your head bent down communicating in your own special way with Simon and his girls. It was a joy to see Simon, to read about Simon and I can just imagine what a void his passing has left in your hearts. But I know that even though he is gone from this earth he will never be gone from your hearts. The memory of him will pop up every once in a while and bring a smile to your face.
    Take heart, Maria. I hope that this year, with its infinite possibilities, will bring much peace and happiness to you and Jon.
    I shall miss Simon and am grateful that you and Jon shared him with all of us. Jane Mintz

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