In the late 70s there was a song by Supertramp called “The Logical Song”, which I loved. I sang it over and over because I enjoyed the rhyming scheme of the lyrics and the drama that it served about coming of age, education. Funny that, at age 14, I thought I knew what made sense where education is concerned. Also, the notion of logic being a variable seemed perfectly clear to me.
I spend little time thinking about being logical. When I do, I never can fathom that there is ever any one solution. I’ve never been one to be sure. Even if I am passionately for, or against, anything, well, it won’t be long before I’ve argued myself the other way.
About 6 weeks ago I was approached by a stranger where I get my hair trimmed.
-“Are you a Virgo?”
—“No, I’m a Pisces.”
-“Oh! Do you mind if I share what is coming for you?”
This is not typical. And if you’re me, it’s not logical. But maybe it is. But I don’t really know.
Of course I wanted to hear what she saw in my stars. My lucky stars. She went on about the astrology of it all, which I’ve forgotten, but her main message was that I should be “cleaning my closets, so to speak” in preparation. I have big change in the year ahead. And she tapered off as if she had spoken too much.
Based on the inspiration of a star-reading stranger, I’ve spent a lot of energy cleaning my home lately. I overhauled my 27 years of clothing in an upstairs closet, 27 years of fabric and crafts and kids’ art, dried paint, boxes and bubble wrap that had accumulated in the basement, 27 years of crap in the front hallway, and so on. And there is still plenty to keep working on. I’m trying to get one big thing done a week, in and around everything else that is going on. My mom loves to come and help me. She “gifted” me two days in my basement to help.
Mom likes to take charge of the job. She’s an expert at heaving and ho-ing stuff for the past few years because she and her senior friends take very seriously not leaving the job for their kin to deal with, ‘after they’re gone.’ Mom’s not going anywhere soon, that I know of, because she’s too busy going everywhere and doing everything all of the time.
I think, a little bit, about that stranger. Who knows what made her want to share with me that fateful, hairdressing day? The power of suggestion is hard to shake. Just in case the stars were telling me to prepare, I didn’t think it hurt to try to get my affairs in order.
When I almost got hit with a pan in the head on Thanksgiving, the first thing I thought was “Phew! At least I finished cleaning my closet so if I die, no one will shame me for the mess!”
So today, who knows why I took a second and then a third look at the several yards of brightly colored fabric that I’d gotten in South Africa many years ago when I was cleaning the front hallway closet. I set it aside, as I do when I don’t know what to do with something, and thought “it’s so bright, and beautiful, and it should really be useful and special, not hidden in this closet collecting dust.”
Later this afternoon, I didn’t realize that my vet and I would be wrapping our alpaca, Indy, in that beautiful cloth. It became his funeral shroud. Beautiful, suited for beautiful Indy. Colorful, with energy, warmth and interest. And Indy, the “greeter”, the “Shepherd of the flocks”, just the same.
When he was stricken with a meningeal parasite infection that spread into his spine and afflicted him with a certain amount of lameness about 2 months ago, I was shocked to see him recover and resume his place in the farmyard, watching over the flock, anointing visitors with curious pecks on their foreheads. We threw the book at him with anti inflammatories, dewormers, steroids and vitamins. We watched his nutrition, his exercise, and it was in less than a week that he was back with the sheep and his girl, Olivia. He steadily strengthened until about 5 days ago when he started to show weakness.
In the past week he’d been less sure-footed, in the past two days he’d taken a few falls and I would have to assist to get him up. Indy was madder and madder after he’d fall, spittier and spittier when you’d try to help him.
Last night when I finally got him into the stall and tucked in with some sheep companions for the night, I had an anxious feeling. I re-applied everything in my medicine chest that I knew to give him, hoped by morning he’d be improved. But he wasn’t.
I called the vet before they were open, I waited.
Dr. Kyle and I spent about an hour evaluating him, manipulating his body in different places and applying various pinches to see how his nerve-endings tested. His back legs weren’t able to support him at all, and though we tried holding him in a standing position, he couldn’t straighten his legs under him, keeping them tucked and cushed as though he were still down.
An animal that thrives on being with the flock, tending, undergoes a great deal of stress when they are separated. And a prey animal, dependent on the ability of flight in times of need, undergoes a great deal of stress when it is prone. To try to rehabilitate Indy would have meant isolation and great amounts of manipulation to help him have ambulatory movement. I don’t even know if I could have gotten him to that point without having someone here full time to help me try to get him to his feet as often as would be necessary.
Though my heart is broken right in two, I can’t be sorry that we didn’t do the best that we could do today for Indy. What a great responsibility, to care for another living being, to make the decisions for life and death. I’m struck with grief, of course, I always am. I wasn’t ready for Indy not to be a part of this farm. He was young. In his prime. He had a job. He had a comfortable home.
But I didn’t want him to suffer, to be an invalid.
Why did he relapse after having improved over 7 weeks? There are probably so many reasons. It hurts my head to think of all of the logical causes, the simple and complicated answers. It hurts my head.
Everyone loved Indy.