It was another dew wet morning, the sun sparkling every drop making the wildflowers growing along the edge of the pasture light up like crystals.
I went looking for a picture or video but wasn’t getting anything. I looked back toward the barn and saw Fanny and Lulu standing over the pile of dirt next Zelda’s grave. They were eating the dirt.
Time to get a mineral block, I thought, they’re obviously craving something the late summer grass doesn’t have anymore.
Then I put my iPhone away to visit with the donkeys. Lulu kept her nose in the dirt, but Fanny came over to me, not nudging me with her nose for a scratch, as usual, but just standing there.
I looked over to where Zelda lay, where she had been, calmly chewing her cud, since I came into the barnyard. The other sheep stood around in front of her and her white wool seemed to glow in the sunlight as if she too were dripping with dew.
I squatted then and rested my head on Fanny’s warm body.
That’s when I got the feeling that all the animals knew that Zelda was going to die. And that it was acknowledged and unremarkable.
I heard the words, “Now I go here” as if the passage for Zelda from life to death is as easy as moving from one pasture to the next.
What I felt was more than just acceptance, it was an understanding of the way things are. That death was the next natural thing to happen and Zelda was prepared for it.
In some ways I feel closer to Lulu, she comes to me more willingly. But whenever I’ve had images or heard words they have come from Fanny.
I can easily rationalize that what I felt and heard this morning was something inside of me, trying to make myself feel better about euthanizing Zelda tomorrow. In some ways, it’s easier to dismiss it as just that. And I do hold a place inside of me which allows that I can never really know.
But Fanny has come to me with unexpected images, words, and feeling before. And the closer I get to the animals and to nature itself, the more ease I feel with their natural rhythms.
This is a felt sense rather than an intellectual one. One that can be elusive and ineffable, but to me is becoming as real as anything I can see or touch.
So I’m going to try and hold on to that feeling. At least until tomorrow when we help Zelda die. And maybe I’ll be able to remember it the next time death comes.