Lamb #55 was scrawny. His fur was black from sheep urinating on him as he tried to steal their milk. I thought he was a fighter. He ran around with the lambs in the pen and didn’t need to be bottle fed and separated like #174 and #57. After a few weeks it became clear his health was dwindling. He kicked like a wild thing and refused to eat when bottle fed. He was put in the pen with #174 and #57. One afternoon, I walked in to feed the three lambs. At this point we had several sheep that had recently given birth along with their lambs in the same pen. My eyes couldn’t spot #55. I was frantic knowing he was underneath one of the enormous sheep with their wool heaving hot at their fat sides. Finally, I saw his hooves. I ran over and forced her off the helpless lamb. His neck looked broken, he wasn’t moving, his sides didn’t seem to be rising with breath. I thought he was dead but I wasn’t sure. I had to reach over and feel his body. My hands trembled as I palpated his limp body, piss stained fur, eyes closed. I remembered his eyes, a beautiful blue. He was still alive. I tried to stand him up to feed him. His neck would fall over and he couldn’t stand. I fed him as much as I could and moved him to an empty pen. Later in the day, he was walking.
“#55’s dead,” said Jen after morning chores the following day. I didn’t want to go into the barn to see his dead body. I already saw it. I already touched it. I choked back the tears as I washed my breakfast dishes.
Letting go was harder than I thought.
Sarit was raving over Jen’s pickles and fermented salad. “Anna doesn’t like pickled things because they remind her of her childhood,” Jen roared. We all laughed. It was funny and true. Pickled pickles, tomatoes, salads and cabbage remind me of being force fed these salty, watery vegetables as a child. I associate them with a darker past, growing up poor in a home with an alcoholic parent. I don’t get flashbacks as I cruise past jars of Vlasick. I simply don’t reach for them. It’s not that I haven’t let go. But maybe it is.
My stuff packed in boxes and my bike with the front wheel off in the back seat, I was on my way to Vermont after a hasty fall-in-love-and-move-to-another-state-for-a-man-I-barely-know decision. Six hours into the ride I found out he just got out of six year relationship two months before meeting me. Those two months have turned into nearly a year. Yet I still cringe inside at reminders of his past with another woman. I still haven’t been able to let go – not even of his past.
In Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert, a Psychology professor at Harvard University, writes about the human ability to ponder the future. He also points out our utter failure to correctly conjure up what is to come. His book isn’t a self help memoir but a scientific explanation for the short comings of our incredible brains and our infallible drive to predict what and who will make us happy, even if we’ve failed to do so time and time again in the past.
The past may seem like a valuable resource but really, unless it’s an acquired skill like kayaking or skateboarding, it probably isn’t. Even so, I’m finding out it’s hard to let go.