Last night, a little lamb died in my arms.
I had been feeding milk to Ram-butan,
our 3 month old ram,
with a syringe,
because he was too weak to drink from the bottle
and his mother had moved on,
so he wasn’t getting anything from her.
He looked healthy, but a few mornings ago
when I went to the pasture to feed the goats
and the sheep
he couldn’t keep up with the herd
or whatever you call a mixture of goats
He had probably gotten a parasite
and wasn’t quite strong enough to fight it
and the herbal de-wormer/immunity builder
wasn’t quite enough for the little guy.
A few minutes after feeding him,
he stopped breathing
as I was holding him near my chest,
close to my heart.
I held him for 5 minutes after he died,
then went and got a shovel
and dug a hole
and we buried him
and planted a Kukui tree on top of him
and it was dark at this point
and it was a crystal-clear night
so every star in the sky was out,
the Milky Way was flowing over the farm
towards the Pacific Ocean.
So, after watering the tree,
I looked up at the stars for a while.
I was sad that Ram-butan died,
but happy he died in my arms,
that he felt warmth as he was dying,
and if sheep can feel loved,
he certainly felt loved
as he was taking his last few labored breaths.
As I looked up at the stars,
I started to think
about all the people
who died tonight,
the ones who died cold, and alone
with no one around to share any warmth
or any love.
I am no more important,
my life is no more meaningful
and Ram-butan was no more important,
his life was no more meaningful
than any of the people who died tonight
or any of the animals who died tonight.
We are all animals,
we are all important,
but so many of us die
cold and alone.
Two months ago, one of our ducks died.
Her name was Little, and she was a beautiful duck.
We think she had a hereditary heart condition.
Her mother, Rumi, died very young.
Rumi died in her sleep and we found her the next day.
Little died in my arms.
We found her struggling to get out of the duck pool,
and she was shaking
so I held her to keep her warm
and she died as I held her
near my chest,
close to my heart.
Little was buried next to her mother, Rumi
next to a Plumeria tree.
The goats and sheep have moved on.
I have moved on.
Life on a farm demands this of us.
Ram-butan has work ahead of him yet,
and I will think of him
as I watch the Kukui tree grow,
just like I think of Rumi
every time I walk past the plumeria tree,
just like I think of humanity
every time I look up at the stars.