If you love animals and the special bonds that form between them and humans, or if you simply need a reminder that love and kindness still exist in our topsy-turvy world, you will identify with this sad but uplifting guest blog. It was written and copyrighted by my friend Eric Weatherbee and is presented here in full with his permission. Known to many in Western New York and beyond as “The Humble Bard,” Eric is a seldom-sleeping, before-daylight-to-after-dark farmer; a full-time receiving manager at a wheat milling facility; a prolific author of several self-published books of prose and verse; and a frequent presenter at area libraries and other sites. This piece appeared originally in the October 2020 issue of Eric’s “The Humble Bard Magazine.”
Missing Amelia, by Eric Weatherbee
I am very, very sad today. Today, September 19, 2020, my family and I said our final farewell to a dear friend. No, I stand corrected, she was much more than just a dear friend. She was and is family. Her name is Amelia. Amelia is a half Holstein, half Hereford cow that has enchanted our lives for several years.
Amelia incurred a spinal injury one week ago and despite all of our efforts and those of Dr. Richard Mathes (Pumpkin Hill Veterinary), she showed no signs of improvement. She was unable to stand or walk, and so on this day we agreed the most humane thing we could do for her was to put her to sleep.
I have dreaded this day for the past week, as I knew in the back of my mind that today’s events were likely to be the climax of this unfortunate accident. For the past week, all of us have spent innumerable hours catering to all of Amelia’s needs and attempting to keep her comfortable and contented, all the while hoping and praying for her recovery.
I cannot begin to describe the love I and all or my family feel for this animal, and all of the animals on our farm. They are not merely inhabitants here at Liberty Hill Farms, they are family, and as such play an important and intricate role in our lives.
I have always considered cows to be one of God’s noblest and gentlest creations. To me, there is nothing more peaceful than a herd of cows grazing contentedly in an emerald green meadow. Yes, it’s true; I’m prejudiced. Perhaps it’s because I have lived within the presence of these gentle creatures every single day of my life. I cannot imagine a life without cows.
The essence of our farm is to maintain a living collage of beauty, peace, and contentment in a world where these elements are often difficult, if not impossible, to find. Cows are an intricate part of our world that exists here at Liberty Hill Farms.
As part of my last will and testament, when my earthly days are through, I have asked to have my remains cremated and spread throughout the acres of this farm where I have lived my entire life. In this way, my soul will forever roam the fields and meadows of this unique sanctuary, side by side with the souls of my ancestors and my most beloved companions, the cows.
I believe when our cows depart this physical life their souls, the very essence of their being, continue to roam and graze the fertile pastures of our farm.
Late at night, when all is quiet and the day’s work is through, I venture out to our large comfortable barn or to the pasture, wherever our cows are bedded down, and check on them, to assure myself and them, that all is well. I touch and speak to each one as I gently move among them. They acknowledge my presence with a twitch of their ears or by moving their heads against my leg as I pet them. Often, I sit down and lean back against one or more of them and let myself be comforted by their rhythmic ruminations and the warmth of their bodies.
As I perform this nightly ritual, something special, some type of sensory perception, a communication of sorts, passes between man and beast. I believe I know how they feel and what thoughts fill their minds and they know mine as well. It is this communion, this conveyance of thought and emotions between species that I crave.
I often wonder, “How is it that I have become so attached, so involved, so in tune with the personalities of these animals? Why is it that I seek their acceptance and companionship so intensely? Perhaps it is because in them I see a better side of myself I wish to embrace. These amazing animals have no animosity, no agenda, no schemes or plots to deploy. They wish only to be cared for and treated with love, dignity, and respect, and they will respond in kind. Perhaps as a race, mankind could take a lesson from these gentle creations of God.
And so, tonight, as the hour grows late, I head out to the barn to convene my nightly ritual. As I enter the barn, all of the cows are nestled in the bright straw, contentedly chewing their cuds. I move from animal to animal, speaking quietly and touching each one, but something is wrong. Someone is missing—Amelia.
I am overwrought with emotion as I realize I will no longer see her gentle face, and gaze into her doleful eyes as I have done each evening of her life. The air suddenly feels heavy with despair, and so I venture out into the pasture.
I continue on until I reach the place in the center of the pasture where Amelia and I spent our last hours together. I close my eyes and see myself kneeling by her side, stroking her neck and ears, my head pressed against the side of her face, while I speak comforting words of endearment to my beloved pet. I remember caressing her soft, warm fur, while experiencing our last conversation together. I remember the knowing look of acceptance in her eyes as he final moment drew near. I know within my heart and soul that the love we share will never fade, and she knows this truth as well. I tell her to watch for me when I enter that eternal meadow and we will be together once again.
I am lost in this reverie of our last moments together, when I realize that although I can no longer touch her, I can feel her presence all around me, and I know her spirit continues to graze this peaceful meadow.
As I raise my head and open my eyes to the starry heavens above, I realize I am no longer alone. The other cows have quietly surrounded me and we stand silently together, remembering, paying tribute to our lost loved one, consoling each other, and . . . Missing Amelia.
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