“Been a tough year,” Kay said as she molded her hands around her warm coffee mug. “Herd’s only twenty-three cows. A third of them lost their calves, and the vet doesn’t know why.”
Kay’s visiting cousin from the city, Sue, shook her head sympathetically and then took a sip from her own steaming mug.
“This mornin’ Number Eighteen lost her baby – the ninth. Poor ole’ momma, she just kept bawling out her grief: ‘Muuu-haaaaw, Muuu-haaaaw…’ But her wailin’ didn’t bring Baby Eighteen back to life.”
“What do you do, when the mourning mothers cry out like that?” asked Sue.
“Well, all the cows are shy of me, and I usually leave them alone. But I went outside this mornin’ and stood at the fence to watch Number Eighteen – sort of share her sadness. Know what she did? She walked towards me with those big mother-eyes full of grief.”
“Do you think she expected you to do something? Bring back her baby? Fill her emptiness?”
Kay stared into space. “I think she just felt, down deep, that I understood.”
Sue shifted in her chair. “What do you mean, exactly? How could you understand? And how could a cow know that about you?”
It had been a matter of eye-to-eye contact. Kay couldn’t explain it, but when Number Eighteen walked over and bawled in her face, their eyes locked and a rather intense emotion transferred.
“I can’t explain it, I just knew we connected. Seems silly, I know. But pain is pain, and I guess Number Eighteen figured I’d had my share and could understand hers.”
Now Sue’s eyes grew big and she stared at Kay with great interest. “Do you think it is possible that animals and people can have some sort of unspoken emotional bond?”
“Well yes, but why do you ask?”
“I guess I always wondered about you farm folks and your animals, ever since I was little, because something inside me wanted that kind of connection.”
With that we put our empty mugs in the sink and walked outside. Tommy, our farm dog, trotted eagerly up to Sue and caught her attention with his characteristically sparkly eyes before gingerly licking her hand.
“He knows, doesn’t he?” she said.
“Yes, Sue, I think he does know something…maybe that we belong to the same Maker and are part of the same plan…”
“Can we go see how Number Eighteen is doing?”
“Sure, and I’ll show you Number Twenty Three, too, and her new calf. It seems to be doing okay so far.” Kay winked as she smiled at Sue. “Maybe you can be his adopted great-aunt.”
Sue and Kay locked arms and headed toward the pasture to share the experience of life and death with so-called dumb animals that were, perhaps, not so dumb after all.
So very, very beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. Deep inside of me I always felt animals were more intelligent than man gave them credit for. A very heart-warming story, indeed. Thanks for sharing it.
I have thought, over the last few years, as pain being the universal language for human beings, but I had not thought of it as a bond for us and all the rest of creation. We have two rescued from the pound black cats and they give us so much joy - we can't imagine our lives without them! This one gives me things to ponder Beth - keep it coming.