Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Note About Tragic Things...

Something tragic happened today.

I got a call while at work.

It was my Dad.

HE'D just gotten a call from our neighbor.

Who had just found our donkey, JD, dead in the field.

There was no sign of a struggle, or obvious injury, no indication of illness. We had thunderstorms last night, but there were no close lightning strikes and I laid eyes on all four animals last night at 11:48. This morning when I left for work, I saw all of the horses standing around on one side of the field. It's true that I didn't see JD himself  this morning, because there was very thick fog, and he's small and grey. But our neighbors were around, and the horses were behaving normally.

Everything seemed fine until about 2:40, when they saw JD lying near their side of the fence. He was dead at that time. Thus ensued the phone tree, my terrorized drive home and the grim reality that my little Donkey'otae had crossed the Rainbow Bridge of his own accord and without informing us of his flight plan.

Because he was very small, I was able to thoroughly examine him, even rolling him from side to side in search of an obvious injury or cause of death. I found nothing suspicious. All this time, the three horses remained clustered in the run-in shed, watching from a distance, blatantly disturbed. They came out at one point, lining up to watch and blow in uneasy confusion and then retreating to the shed again. We had JD's grave 3/4 dug before they ventured out into the field and began grazing.

In the very end, the only mark we ever found was a small scrape above JD's left eye. That, and the slightly irregular looseness of his neck, even after several hours when rigor should have been in place, leads us to believe that most likely, the animals were all playing (something that happened on a regular basis) and JD was accidentally kicked in the head. Or, perhaps, the four of them were standing close together and one of the big guys cow kicked (a sideways, outward motion) and clipped JD. Whichever, it was obvious that he died instantly and without suffering. Horses are incredibly powerful, even when they're playing, or acting in an unintentional manner, and sometimes they hurt themselves or others without meaning to.

Life is so funny, so delicate, that way. And always, it's unpredictable. We had JD for many good years, and while I wanted to have him for many many more, we just don't get to choose sometimes. Which is what makes coming full circle so hard. Because it's not our choice. We're just along for the ride, and sometimes it's a fun ride, but sometimes it's not. But it's life. Ebbing and surging.

I'm still rather in shock. Tomorrow will be worse than today, I fear. Because tomorrow, I'll have to get up and look at a field with three horses and no little donkey. Digging the grave today, will seem like a small thing by comparison. But the sun will rise. And I will be there to greet it.