One of the six remaining geese from April’s hatch died today – photo above from happier times. She was the last gosling to hatch, needing a little assistance. From the beginning, she had what I can only describe as a “dreamy” look to her, as if she were always thinking of a far-off place. She grew normally and, until now, she’d been healthy and active like the others.
I don’t know precisely why, but I had a gut feeling that she wasn’t going to make it, even though she didn’t manifest symptoms that clearly suggested a serious or terminal condition. It’s terrible to just know when an animal, outwardly uninjured and perhaps even still ambulatory and eating/drinking/pooping, is headed toward the end. I’d known this girl for seven months, and when I brought her inside (to the “infirmary”), I was concerned: she had been hanging out by herself, away from the gaggle, and put up no real resistance to being handled. Not good signs. While she was inside, she ate and drank and pooped – behaviors that gave me hope that maybe with time and TLC, she would recover and join her group.
Over the past week, she remained strangely docile and made little noise (also unusual for a goose). One day she began honking and seemed fiesty, so I took her out and put her with her group; sadly, she hung back and just settled on the ground, so I brought her back inside. That was a few days ago, and she just seemed to grow weaker and less aware of her surroundings since then.
This morning, she hadn’t touched her water or food, a sight that struck dread in my heart. When I removed her from her cage, she didn’t put up any resistance, and she didn’t seem to have the strength to stand. Thinking that seeing her friends might cheer her up, I set her in their grazing area, but they attacked her, so I quickly took her back out. Dread increasing: what did the others know?
It’s a sunny and warmish day, so I filled up a shallow pan with water and left her in the sunshine in a hoop tractor, hoping that the fresh air and sounds of the other geese would perk her up…but, after about a half hour of doing some chores, I found that she had died, probably shortly after I left her. I am so sad that she left, but it feels like it was the natural course of events (even though I wish it wasn’t).
I’m working hard at this moment to try to accept that sometimes living creatures just die, and that’s how it’s meant to be. The knowledge that she died on a beautiful day in the place where she hatched and that she felt the sun and breeze one last time before she passed on to another place does give me some comfort. She was a remarkable creature, and I am privileged to have known her for the seven months she was here. I won’t forget her.
Dreamer, dream…and find your sisters.