Eat, Bray, Love

Forget trips around the world, endless hours of meditation, and torrid love affairs. At the end of my marriage, it was two 400-pound donkeys that made our family whole again.
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I got a new donkey the year my husband moved out. Neither event was planned. Just three years earlier we'd bought a house with a big red barn set on two acres. After 15 years of marriage, four children, and 11 moves, this was it: Home, with a capital H. We planned to plant blueberries and daffodils, watch children and trees mature, put a couple of horses in the backyard.

But you know what they say about how to make God laugh? Just say, "I have a plan."

Plans change. Marriages, too. Things once sweet go sour. While we were busy watering trees and building a paddock -- and buying a horse and donkey to go in it -- our marriage hit a rough spot. Three therapists could not resurrect it, so my husband moved out.

Dizzy from turmoil and pain, I replaced him with a second donkey. I can say with certainty that this was never part of my life plan: Me, in my dream house, with a horse, four children, two donkeys -- but no husband. Every evening I dropped to my knees and summoning God like a waiter. I moaned, "This is not what I ordered."

But my prayers were drowned out by the braying. My then-6-year-old daughter made up a word -- he-honk -- for the noise that donkeys make. "Jo-Jo's he-honking again," she would announce, as if the whole neighborhood didn't already know.

During mediation the attorney listed the horse and donkey as "assets." It was the only funny thing about that horrible, soul-slaying process. They were not assets but liabilities. Good hay was $8 a bale and they needed their feet trimmed, their teeth filed, spring and fall shots, wood shavings for stalls. Supporting a horse and two donkeys cost me $500 a month, $500 I no longer had. They had to go. The horse was the first to leave. He had kicked my daughter and was kind of mean, so I wasn't too fond of him.

Continued on page 2:  Keeping Jo-Jo


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