Last week, I found myself sobbing at the drop of a hat. Though my grandmother passed away on May 15, 2012, time hasn’t healed my broken heart. I still cry uncontrollably and miss her so much. I’ve been told that the sadness gets easier in time, but it hasn’t…yet. I know we will never stop missing her, and we need to remember all the great memories we have of her. She lived a happy and full life and with those she loved the most.
Still, death and dying have never been easy for me.
I remember when Hubby and I were in our first year of marriage. I was a city girl living on a farm, married to a beef farmer. I had all these romantic notions of what rural life would be like. I had visions of picking vegetables from the garden, preparing 100% all home-cooked meals, feeding the animals, and enjoying every day of pastoral life.
HA! I neglected to think about how painstaking and challenging the work would be, how my husband would spend his mornings, days and evenings in the fields or in the barn, and how there would be so many obstacles like machinery breakdowns and repairs, runaway cattle, miles and miles of fences that needed to be repaired each time the cattle busted through…and, of course, the occasional loss of an animal.
That’s what got me. The death and dying part.
The first year of marriage saw me helping Hubby deliver a calf. Usually the cows birth their calves on their own, but this particular heifer required assistance. Despite our best efforts, we lost both the heifer and her calf during the birthing process. It was one of the most awful days for me. I had never experienced anything like it. My husband realized that was the first time I had been through a situation like that. He knew I was attached to the animals and took this really hard. He was sad as well, but reminded me that when you live on a farm, you experience the beauties of life every day. The sadness of death is part of life and we must appreciate the whole.
Our five year old daughter, living on the farm, has adopted the same sentiments as my husband’s.
We walked into the barn yesterday morning and spotted one of our ducks laying on a bale of hay. Motionless. Without life. Dead.
I gasped and immediately wanted to cry. My five year old looked at me and said, “Mama, that’s just part of life. These things happen.”
What? She’s FIVE!!!
Today, she drew me this picture. It’s the “Circle of Life” from her perspective.
Little One says, “The circle of life is baby, toddler, kid, teenager, adult, old, dead”. Those are her words exactly.
Maybe there is something to be said about raising kids on the farm. I never really explained death and dying to her. She seems to have a healthy understanding of it though. Little One demonstrates an appreciation for the animals and the plants on our farm. She has already declared herself a “steward of the land“. She has a close connection to the land and everything living on it. She knows that what lives must eventually pass and right now, she seems okay with that. I can learn a lot from my five year old.