As hard as I try to walk alongside convention and discipline and write regular blogs for my website, it is only when something really inspires me that I can sit still for long enough to share it.
This blog is inspired by the passing of another birth year, and of a rather unexpected and special guest, who popped into my life very briefly.
I like birthdays, not for the fuss, presents or other paraphernalia associated with the commercial birthday but because, for me, it marks the end of one rather battered and well-used year and the start of another fresh, new one. It is a great time to reflect, re-evaluate and revise plans and positioning.
Those who know me will think that sounds like a normal day for me but there is a bit more determination and deliberation brought by the demarcation of another year.
Two days before the end of my 48th year, I found a little orphaned lamb wrapped, not in swathing robes, but brambles in a hedgerow early in the morning. Frost still lurked in the shadowed grass and there was a biting east wind. However, the little lamb was dry, bleating for help and very contented to be ‘rescued’. Her umbilical cord was still wet, suggesting she was indeed only hours old, and there were no other sheep in the field. Her first hours of life will remain a mystery. As I couldn’t find the farmer, I decided to give her the best chance I could and drove 20 miles to get the essential provisions for raising an orphaned lamb. I knew she needed colostrum, as I have no idea whether she had had any from her mother before being abandoned, and I also bought a feeding bottle and powdered ewe’s milk to take her through her first couple of weeks.
She took the colostrum eagerly and was strong and determined. She had no fear of Yogi (my terrier-ist) and followed her around eager for affection and possible adoption.
The first 24 hours consisted of the administration of much love, attention and feeding and all seemed well. But by day two and she was quieter, not as demanding, and not as boisterous. I put it down to recovery from a rather tiring entrance into life, until she started refusing her milk. A visit to a local farmer resulted in a penicillin jab and a sagely, “She’s got two chances.” But I could sense she was fading. She had lost interest in Yogi, food and life. Surely that interest could be reignited with rest and warmth? I sat up with her through the night, with her cwtched up in a blanket on my lap, praying to see signs of improvement and for the heavy, raspy breathing to abide. It didn’t and as the sun rose over the horizon she slipped away. The start of a new day and the end of a new life.
She has a left a huge void, which is astonishingly disproportionate to her all-to-brief life, and I am left trying to make sense of such a short existence.
A day later, I passed from my 48th year into my 49th. The death of the lamb seemed to reflect the death of my 48th year and in fact all those that have also gone before. And not in a macabre way but in a way which reminds me that the past is in fact ‘dead’ or devoid of life. Of course it is not devoid of memories, lessons and all-important experiences but it is devoid of power and energy.
Grief is a healthy emotion when it’s still warm – I still grieve the recent loss of the lamb – but cold grief, or grieving for old, dusty mistakes and raking over old cold bones of your less-than-rewarding decisions is like a broken pencil – pointless.
I have entered my 49th year with some fairly hefty irons in the fire and am waiting to discover the decisions, which have been made by others but will alter the direction of my life substantially. It has been challenging for me to accept that I have no input in the final decisions but I am reminded of the wonderful mantra, ‘This or better.’
I am reminded that as long as you do your best, there is no need for reproach; as long as you are kind, there is no need for regret; and as long as you are authentic and congruent, there is no need for resistance.
And as that adorable little lamb taught me in such a short space of time, as long as you are taking breath, there is hope.
So it is with gratitude and reverence that I turn my back toward the last 48 years and with gratitude and hope that I turn my face to the next 12 months and all it holds.