Eat, Bray, Love
Life Without Donkeys
Winter came and the barn, as my son had predicted, went cold and dead. We had our second Christmas without Daddy, our first without donkeys. Christmas had been more magical when there was warm fur and vigorous braying in a lit barn. The season of miracles passed. And then, in January, a miracle arrived.
"I need to give you your donkeys back," the e-mail read. Apparently Jo-Jo was not getting along well with Nancy's favorite mare, and as they say in court, their differences appeared irreconcilable. Stunned, I read the e-mail again. Then I felt a ripple of something unfamiliar, something I'd known long ago. Something resembling joy.
My mind raced. The commonsense voice inside my head rehashed the reality: I still couldn't afford them. We had no hay. We had no shavings. But I was so happy, I could bray.
Jo-Jo and Foggy returned later that week and we were all ecstatic. Who knows what donkeys think, if they think at all, but they seemed to realize they were back where they belonged. For the children and me, still battered from a bigger loss, their homecoming was healing. I recalled the Serenity Prayer: the things I cannot change, the things I can, the wisdom to know the difference. This I could change, and I did.
Money is still scarce, and I'm still weary at night, but I have a new certainty in things that are right: in the value of staying together, protecting the herd. I made a new vow: There will be no more loss for my family, none that I have the power to prevent. Not on my watch. Not in my house. Not in my barn, which is alive again, fragrant with hay, hope -- and donkeys.