We got our first ducks almost five years ago. We had returned from a trip to New Zealand where one morning along the coast we fed ducks. My oldest daughter decided we really ought to have some of our own. My husband concurred so on a spring day we came home with 6 fluffy little ducklings who needed to be kept warm, fed and watered. They grew up to be great big ducks and they even had a couple of generations of their own. Gradually we were down to one lone duck. A friend donated five more ducks. The new ducks didn't much like the old duck and excluded her. One day I found her dead in the pen, the victim of a predator. We live in the country on 20 acres so this was not surprising. We hear coyotes howl almost every night. There are fox, raccoons, skunks, badgers and even an occasional mountain lion. We did keep the ducks in a pen and tried to protect them as much as possible. Earlier this week I found one dead duck in the pen. Two days later my daughter called me to tell me there were two dead ducks and three missing. We are now officially duck-less.
People who are not animals lovers, who do not have pets, who do not have livestock of any kind may not understand the sentimentality of this post. Animals lovers will. The routine care of any animal, livestock or pet, is a daily activity. It is woven into the threads of our lives. We are aware always of their existence. Ducks quack. The last batch of ducks didn't quack as loudly as the first batch and were thus deemed less entertaining; nonetheless, they did quack. They quacked every time we let one of the dogs out and then called them back inside. They quacked when I fed them. It seems very quiet without their quacking.
It's hard not to feel a little sad, to feel the loss. It is not a devastating loss. A devastating loss in the pet world is when we lose a companion who follows us around, is happy to see us when we come home and likes to sit on our laps. When they are gone there is a large void that takes time to fill, sometimes with a new dog or cat, sometimes not. This is by no means like losing a loved human but it is similar. If you didn't get to see that special human every day, even though you loved them very much, they weren't part of your daily life. Animals are part of our every day world. When you lose a pet, you turn around and expect to see them there. When you lose a friend or family member, you think how much you want to call them but you can't.
Loss always involves change. I feel sad about losing the ducks all at once. It's made me think about the transitory nature of life again. When we are young, death seems so brutal, the effects of losing someone causes raw and agonizing pain. When we get older there is a different perspective, maybe because important people have died along the way and we realize that this is truly an unavoidable part of life. I have lost important people in my life and have weathered some storms. It's never been easy but my attitude now is a little more accepting. It's part of the cycle of life: birth, death, regeneration.
So, that's where living in the moment, appreciating each moment comes in because you never know what will happen next. Do you?