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Friday, November 7, 2014


I don't want to write tonight, but it is the only thing I'm able to do. I'm so mired down in grief I can't sleep, can't read, can't watch a movie, can't listen to music. Donkey Jenny surprised me delivering her baby today. She lay down in some wet mud with water running through it. Animals go to water when they have pain. I supposed she went to the wet mud in some kind of pain, maybe. I found the baby not long after. I saw Jenny focused in that direction, looked and thought I saw a dead coyote she must have killed. I saw the stripe on its shoulder, donkey. It had mud on its hooves and I saw its hoof prints in the mud. Evidently, it could not stand up in the mud, slid down and its head went in water and it must have either suffocated or drowned. A little girl with long curly hair like Jenny's. Jenny's nose pushed her to get up, over and over. Jenny was in deep mourning. Jack was too. I walked into the scene and I fell into mourning. It tore me up. Intense grief, please get up, knowing it was not possible, wanting to go back and do it again with me present to help, not possible. Jenny let me put my arms around her neck and hold her as we wept together. I held Jack and mourned with him too. Both donkeys were like me, didn't know what to do. Jack stood around close by Jenny, watching her nudge the baby, feeling her sorrow as his own. I stood with them and watched Jenny until I felt it was time to do something. It was mine to dig the hole, mine to bury the baby. Where? I wanted to put it in the donkey meadow where it belongs. I chose a spot out from the dogwood tree, between two trails, a place some ironweed grew that the donkeys did not eat. 

I dug the hole weeping, hating digging the grave for Jenny's baby, already named Sherpa, Jack watching what I was doing, sniffing the dirt pile, while Jenny pushed and pushed her baby with her nose, using her front hoof to make the baby move. I couldn't stand it that Jenny lost her first baby. One of those times when the heart has more to deal with than it can bear. I wanted to leave the body, myself, to get out of the pain. But I couldn't abandon Jenny and Jack in their most vulnerable time. I dug the hole remembering other graves I've dug, this one the size of dogs I've put in the ground. Digging a grave for a beloved is unbearable, but I force my way through it. It is mine to do, no one else's. Mine, for love and respect. And, of course, I questioned why God abandoned me. I looked for ways to blame myself and found several. Should-have is too late. Jenny birthed exactly one year after she arrived here with Jack. I thought it was some time later that Jack conquered her, but he must have found penetration in their first night. Just now heard a pack of coyotes yelling from the donkey meadow. I jumped and ran to the door, hollering, GIT, several times. They dispersed. I threw on a sweatshirt, went out with a flashlight in bright full moon. Jack met me at the gate. He'd been in the shed. I saw eyes glowing by the grave. Jenny came walking to me. She was in high guardian mode. I was careful with her. She wanted to smell me all over to be sure it was her friend. I told her over and over, crying, I was sorry she'd lost her baby, sorry I couldn't bring baby back. She walked warily with me to the grave. I thought I might want to cover the baby with dirt to protect it from the coyotes. Closer to the grave, Jenny became aggressive, telling both me and Jack to stay back. 

Her eyes, when I saw them with the flashlight, were close to the ground like she was lying down, guarding her baby through the night. She walked back to the grave, satisfied I understood to stay away. The coyotes will be drawn to the scent all night, I'm certain. Jenny knows it too. Not even a pack of them will get past her. I'm not afraid for her, except I don't like them terrorizing her, circling her, yipping like they do around her. It's a creepy enough sound from a distance. It must be awful to have them all around taunting, threatening. They know from experience Jenny will hurt them. She's safe and her baby is safe through the night. I doubt she will let me fill in the dirt until after baby's scent changes. I remember my great great grandpa who shot himself in the barn lot, age 74. The story is that his dog, evidently a Plott hound, would not let anyone near the body for three days and nights. I assume his scent changed and the dog was hungry. His scent gone, no reason go hungry any longer. My feeling this is what Jenny is doing, staying with her baby until the scent is gone. I will proceed according to Jenny's will. I will wait until she takes no more interest. She will let me cover the body when the scent changes. I longed so to know Jenny's baby, see her and baby together playing. I wanted the joy of a little donkey hopping about, another donkey to fall in love with, And we were delivered sorrow. I wanted to see Jack loving his little baby doll. In the meadow, after Jenny returned to the grave, Jack was standing beside me. I leaned down, the side of my face on his neck near his ears, and wept, cried and cried holding Jack, him still, feeling that I was feeling what he was feeling.

This is the deepest connection I've had yet with Jack and Jenny. The three of us cried together in the light of the full November moon. I had been to visit the grave of my friend Jr Maxwell, who left the body on this full moon five years ago. Driving down the road coming home, I saw Jenny and Jack both lying on the ground. I took it for sunning on a fifty degree day. I went to take them some hay. I saw Jenny fixed on a spot like something was there. I looked and saw what I took for a dead coyote, thinking Jenny might have killed it in the night. I stepped closer and saw the Bethlehem cross line on its shoulder and knew it was not a coyote. After placing the baby in the grave and learning Jenny was not going to allow me to cover it with dirt, I came back to the house. Went to bed wanting to sleep, but just cried. Got up, held Caterpillar awhile. Unable to do anything, I decided to shower. Made the water good and hot, stood in the water bawling, moaning, wanting to let loose and wail, though it didn't go past moaning out loud like singing in the shower. Turns out the shower is a good place to cry. I let it go until there were no more tears to fall. I felt so sad for Jenny my sorrow never let up. I lost a new friend before we met. I hated carrying the body to the grave and placing it in the hole as though putting it to bed for the night. Jenny stepped into the grave with her front feet, nudging the body with a hoof to move, with her nose, sometimes in seeming desperation. I could not take pictures of the baby, but got a couple of Jenny standing in the grave. It was all I wanted, a picture of Jenny's sorrow to remember the day I learned again how deeply the four-leggeds feel. 



  1. I cried all the way through this blog Tj...Nothing I can say will ease your pain so go ahead and cry and mourn and cry some will get easier as time goes love Jack and Jenny and her baby that had such a short life but was here for a reason...Love them and cry for I will too...and know there is a plan for all of us.

  2. oh no.. I cried all the way through it, too.. it 's so sweet and poignant and incredibly sad. I'm so sorry for all of you.

  3. I'm feeling your grief. So sorry!

  4. TJ - Words seem so inadequate at times like these. I'm so sorry for your family's loss. As I was reading I was thankful that you and Jenny and Jack have each other during this grieving process. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Wrapping you around with infinite love and healing, Christine