It’s a year ago, today, since I had a phone call to tell me that my sister was so poorly that she might not survive. She had an un-expected brain haemorrhage that was so severe that, at the very least, she wouldn’t ever be Sarah again or, at the worst, she would join her husband, Dave, who died the year before, by the morning. I have to say, it changed my life. At the time, I did whatever I could to help her, as well as our family and her friends. Fortunately, for me, I was in touch with a social network and, for all the right reasons, I aired my grief and inner feelings on the world wide web. In my haste, I wrote blogs about how f*cked-up I felt, and what I would give to get Sarah back in one piece. Despite not being religious, I still asked God if he could help out. I even offered my life in exchange for hers, a promise I was prepared to keep. The response from others, both friends and strangers, was phenomenal, and an incredible tribute to human nature.
A few months ago, Sarah came here to France and, despite a few minor issues, she was back in the real world, and could genuinely be classed as normal, sane and rational. Yes, her illness did take a huge toll, but, mainly due to her strength and tenacity, she pulled through remarkably well. I have to thank God and the NHS for that.
Coming from a farming background, our few sheep here at Chauffour are a hobby to me that indulge my love of livestock. I am not sure that I ever want to get my hands dirty trying to earn a living as a farmer again, but nevertheless I have never quite lost that desire to bring life to the world, under my own design, via pedigree cattle and sheep. It is a small but enjoyable task, and one that I gain pleasure out of introducing to Wendy who, bar raising a kitten or too, has not previously been exposed to.
Fate inevitably brings its upsy and downs and, 2 weeks ago, we were confronted with a hopeless case of a poorly lamb that should never have made it out of the blocks. Stupidly I gave it a presence on Facebook, in an attempt to highlight how the interference of nature can incur problems that we have to take responsibly for. We called her Daisy-death-wish and I never anticipated her survival. Next thing I knew, she gained a following, with well-wishers and shepherds alike giving her hope and encouragement. I am happy to report that she did better than expected, and have to wonder whether all this communal hope gave her a better prospect.
Does this seem familiar?
This morning, completely unexpectedly, the brother of said lowly lamb contracted an illness of a terminal nature. Somewhere along the line, I have to take full responsibility for this and, try though I might, I was unable to rectify the situation. It was a tragically sad moment when Wendy, whose faith and trust I had gained with my shepherding prowess, had to witness a recently healthy animal loose its life in her arms without biological explanation. Her grief was hard to console.
Only now, a few hours later, when I note the date, do I refer to my written prayer of a year ago. A life for a life! It was just a sheep. We called him Derek and enjoyed his short life, bouncing about on the drive. A coincidence, surely?
I hate to ask, but does that make it quits now?