Monday, October 3, 2016

An Alpaca on an Oriental Rug

Daniel with Cammie, in early August, 2004

                         Sometimes, I look back sadly on the twelve and a half short years Daniel had on Earth. Sometimes I feel as if I should have taken him to Europe, or to Canada or even Iceland.  The fact is, I believed all those things could wait or that he could do them as an adult. I believed he would be on Earth for an entire lifetime and that there was no reason to race through his life.  Other times I look back on his life and realize that in many ways he enjoyed an unusual and special life here, even though he may not have completed the things I might have wanted for him.

                         Daniel loved animals, and in late July of 2004, one of our alpacas, Queen Isabelle, gave birth to a third cria (baby alpaca)   Isabelle's milk did not come in as it should have, and the vet came to give the cria a blood transfusion from another animal in order to provide the immunity that the initial colostrum ordinarily would have provided. We also needed, for a time,  to tube feed the cria, and then nurse her through colic, all while running her outside periodically to maintain the bond she was to have with her mother.  At night the cria slept in some clean orchard grass in our empty deep jacuzzi in the master bedroom.  During the day, she spent time with her mother outside in the grass. The cria, named Warrior Princess Camellia, or Cammie to mere mortals like ourselves, came inside to the bathroom to receive orogastric tube feedings. At times, the little dear did walk over genuine oriental rugs ! Fortunately, even young crias urinate and defecate only in a dung pile out of doors.  Daniel was especially nurturing to little Cammie, who was all of twenty pounds during this period of time.

              Time passed quickly and Cammie grew.  As time passed she not only had the bond with her mother for which we had all hoped, but a bond with Daniel and the rest of her humans, as well.  Daniel may not have seen Europe or had pastries in Paris. He may not have have seen bubbling hot springs in Iceland, or have made it to Stonehenge in England, but he did live a remarkable life.  He spent a lot of time studying things with which he had a deep interest. He read a great deal and few had such a detailed understanding of a computer and the internet. In fact, he was looking at colleges at 12 1/2 and was academically ready to go. He enjoyed close relationships with animals and was an important caregiver to them, especially when they had difficulties. He enjoyed rescue dogs, and chickens and ducks. He did far more of the things he really cared about doing than many of us have the chance to do.

             We had no idea what was to come. Probably the reason that Cammie's mother did not produce milk following her delivery, is that she was later found to have an advancing brain tumor. The vet believed it to be astrocytoma.  Cammie's mother Isabelle died in the Summer of 2004. I remember Daniel hosing Isabelle down to keep her cool following a seizure in one of those last hours.
              Then, in November, 2008 Daniel died suddenly, and with a clean autopsy. It is theorized that he passed of a sudden heart rhythm disturbance, the type often seen in children playing sports. It is theorized to have been something called Long QT Syndrome.
              Cammie is ten years old now. She lost her mother, and then she lost Daniel.  Within in past few months, her father, Ditto, passed at a very advanced age.  We still care for her as diligently as we ever did, exactly as Daniel would want it.  Cammie may have known losses, but she has also known stability in that she has remained at the farm in which she was born, all of her life. She has herdmates she has known all of that time. She has a brother who has always been here also.

                In late Fall this year, Daniel will have been gone for eight years. Sometimes it feels like it was only three years ago, and then other times it feels as if it were ten years ago. So many of Daniel's animals have lived to advanced old ages and then passed. The world has changed a good deal in the eight years since his departure.
                 And still, both Cammie and Daniel have the memory of playing together within weeks of her birth, on oak floors indoors, and on oriental rugs. Most of all I remember their joy while playing, as we worked so hard to keep Cammie alive in those early weeks.

                   And so, if there is a moral to this story and to life in general, it's that none of us know what is to come or can predict it. Of course we all need to work, because work is a part of life, but we also need to make time to do things we genuinely care about doing.  I can't account for my grandmother living to near one hundred when she had battled health issues from about forty on. I can't account for how a healthy child could die despite CPR one November day.  What I can do, is make sure that everyone I love knows it, and that the most important things I care about doing are done. Make sure that the animals you love know that too, as their lives pass so much more quickly than our own.  Don't be afraid to put your alpaca on an oriental rug if need be.

My husband with Cammie.