I have not written anything at all here since Purim. Part of the reason is that we have been busy with our work on the ranch, and my work with the Gary Johnson campaign, with classes and courses, training and all the business of life. If I had thought that as the children grew up and began leaving home my leisure would increase, I have been shown to be wrong. The days are still just as packed as they ever were, if not more so.
But another, deeper reason is that I have been challenged and tested this spring of 2012 with losses and gains that I was reluctant to write about because I had not yet resolved some of them in my own head and heart, and in some ways still haven’t.
We lost a total of four animals this past spring. The one calf born so far this year, was taken by coyotes, and a heifer died one night for reasons that we will never know, about two months after we transferred her to our partner’s farm on the Rio Grande. These losses caused momentary anguish and questioning, but not the anguish that two others created.
In late January, while we were away, the eldest of our two house cats died unexpectedly. Cloudy, our most beautiful cat—the one with the unique aquamarine eyes--laid down in his favorite winter sleeping spot and never woke up again. He was found by the CIT, who saw him born 11 years before. It seemed the circle was closed that night and the next day when we buried him on the sunny south-facing hillside behind the house, under a twisted pinyon tree in view of his favorite window perch.
But the hardest loss by far happened on February 8, 2012. It was a sunny, early spring morning, when I fed the dogs, and as was my habit, hugged Umbrae—our big, black Newfie cross hard so that he would “talk” to me. Later that morning, busy with computer work for a class that I was leaving to attend in Albuquerque, I did not notice that he and Lily had gone on walk-about. When he did not return, I drove the county road looking for him, returning empty to the ranch. After Lily returned, I reluctantly left for two days, hoping that he would return that evening. He never did. And I am left with a huge hole in my heart, wondering what happened to him, and thinking about what I could have done differently that morning. He may have been stolen, he may have been attacked by a wild animal. He may be alive still, and he may not. We just don’t know. And that is the hardest loss of all. As I drive around the Red Hill area, I still have one eye on the pastures and roads, the hills and the houses, hoping to catch a glimpse of my big, black dog. In my mind’s eye I see him, in the periphery of my vision, dancing on the big rock on the hill above the house.
More than any other reason, I think I have not posted here for so long because on some level, I wanted to wait for good news about Umbrae. Writing about his loss, I knew, would open up the wound of not knowing, to bring that awful sinking feeling in my gut, the pain of loss that seems unendurable even as it must be endured. And it would make his loss seem final and permanent in my mind.
There have been other losses, but they are smaller, less permanent, more reconcilable. There have also been many gains, some wonderful and amazing, and some small and satisfying. The gains, I think, deserve their own entry and their own honors. Tomorrow.
I have undertaken the discipline of blogging again, as we move into the summer and as I embrace more and more fully this life we have chosen, way out here.