Once there was a goat, a special creature who you wanted to curl up with and share all your secrets. She had forgiven humans for milking her and for sending her babies off to slaughter. In her heart, there was a giant ball of compassion, of wanting to share and receive kindness.
Her name was Flo.
There are animals who touch your heart, who leave you with the certain knowledge that these other species are not moons circling us but are their own planets, in their own orbits, making their own way in the world. They do not just touch you, they grab at everyone and anyone within their sphere. People meet them and laugh at their friendliness, find comfort in their gentle presence and realize how much emotion and intelligence lurks behind those all-knowing eyes.
That was Flo.
She touched us all, from the staff who whispered words of love in her soft ears to the visitors who pushed and shoved to scratch her back, to bask in her presence. The other goats looked up to her for years, their queen, their leader who knew where the star thistle lay, where the best meadows for grazing sat waiting, just waiting for the goats to arrive.
Flo grew old.
The years were kind to Flo; she aged with grace and integrity. Her body did not. It fought against her spirit and hurt Flo with cancer and failing kidneys. We watched and waited. We held on and cried and leaned against her, wishing it all away, wishing her to get better. She did not fight or hold on, she did not rage against the world with all its injustices and coldness and cruelties. She leaned back and sighed, waited for us to massage her, for us to stop our senseless tears. Her body sent mixed messages, telling her one day she was fine and the next four days, she was not. She grew nauseous and tired, trembled with effort to get up, looked longingly at her herd as they winded their way up hills and foraged. Everything was an effort, a struggle. And yet we watched, because in her eyes we still saw life and hope and Flo. We made her comfortable, gave her things to ease the pain, fed her whatever food she could stomach.
But then it was time.
We were not ready. We never are. This time, she leaned against us. She pushed and made her presence known. When the sedative took effect, she sighed, a release and lay down as if just to rest, to sit awhile. She laid back against us and there was no flailing, no rejection, just her and us together. And then she was gone, it was that quick and fleeting. Once alive, suffering in this world, now not. Just us.
She is buried on the property where she can once again become part of the grassy fields, of this place she called home, a place that, for now, feels a little colder, a little wider and emptier without her alive in it.
We will miss her so much. We are so grateful to have known her and we hope that, for those of you who met her, you are grateful too. She was a special, precious, wonderful friend.