By Lisa Huddleston
I love living on a Century Farm here in Middle Tennessee. It is green and private and lovely, but there are occasional drawbacks. It’s hard to find a good restaurant that’s worth paying for anywhere nearby, it’s a very long drive on the Interstate to many of the events we choose to attend—including our church—but one of the worst things about living here happens when the young man who owns the cattle who share this farm with us takes away the older calves to sell.
The mommas are just pitiful. They holler all day and all night—and I can only imagine how bad the calves feel. Separation from those we love really sucks, kind of like a calf on an udder or an udder that misses its calf.
Anyway, today there was a big, black cow looking directly at me over the back fence while I drank my morning coffee on the porch. She bawled and looked. Bawled and looked. I really felt guilty as though she thought I knew where her baby was and if she just asked nicely enough I would return it. To make matters even worse, old Dottie Pigbody had to get into the act by ferociously barking at the grieving mother and running her off.
No, I don’t make a good farmer, and, yes, I cried. And that experience set my mind off and running down a sad trail.
Next, I saw the bright, red cardinal who daily frequents our bird feeders—most often with his less colorful mate. I imagined one saying to the other, “Where would you like to have brunch today?” and then flying in to light on the chosen feeder. I told Chuck that it makes me sad to see birds who are always with mates because I worry that something will happen to one of them and then the other will grieve. He laughed and said, “Well, let’s just shoot both of them now then and get it over with.”
Of course, my tender-hearted husband was just kidding, but part of me agreed with that plan. Wouldn’t it be better to take them out together? I sure don’t want to hang around if Chuck goes before me.
And that is part of my problem. (“Aha,” you say. “We definitely knew you had one!”) I see everything through a filter of impending death and separation. Sad but true. The beauty of spring inevitably leads to winter. The puppy you fall in love with turns gray before you turn around. The kids you plan and hope for grow up and move out. People leave and seasons end and everything eventually fades.
My therapist laughs when I tell her that I know I’m the one with depression, but I really think it’s everyone else who is suffering from delusions. My preoccupation with death is only realistic thinking. If you’re living, you’re dying, and vice versa.
Some days this truth helps me to appreciate the value found in moments. Beauty in a golden leaf hanging suspended on the breeze for seconds before gently floating to the ground. White clouds in blue skies. Calves skipping and playfully butting heads. Unexpected fish fries that bring the kids home. Countless millions of things for which I am truly thankful, but which also carry with them the knowledge that too soon they will be over.
No pretty bow or cherry on top of this post. Just my observations.
I see you, sad Momma Cow, as you look to me for answers, and my heart goes out to you because I have none. Hopefully new babies will be born to you soon, and I pray that you will not see what’s coming.