I’m sorry, Frodo, that I am digging your grave before you have died. It is not my wish for you to die. I am not in a hurry. But it is obviously your time. And this will keep me busy. And this, besides just touching you, will be the final and only thing left for me to do to honor you.
You can’t hear a thing now, but you are still aware. Aware of the purpose of your life. You watch. You are so weak, with legs of spaghetti, Margaret, our veterinarian says. Yet you manage to lie so that you can watch the flock.
Margaret said there was nothing she could do. Of course, I was quite sure that was the case. No, nothing left for us to do.
You have guarded the flock for over twelve years now, and for the past several years we have helped keep you going by giving you anti-inflamatories, along with other meds. But now, Margaret says, they are taking their toll and it looks like you may be bleeding inside.
But you don’t appear to be suffering. Last night I lay with you when you couldn’t get up to go to the barn. We lay together in the pasture—you watching the lights of the cars going by and caring for your flock, me looking to the stars for answers. But your eyes showed no pain. You regarded me. I stroked you in order to speak to you my love and thanks.
Now, while we wait for Margaret and A. J. to return with your last medications, I dig your grave under the trees. It’s a quiet spot—a beautiful spot. Digging it is a way to keep from crying, thinking of what we are losing here on the farm. It is a way to keep busy. I want this grave to speak of dignity.
Connie and I try now, one final time, to get you on your feet. One last attempt to convince ourselves we have done all we can do for you. Your legs collapse and you have to lie on your side, exhausted for a while. I have a hard time breathing from the grief it causes me to see you this way.
But by the time Margaret returns with Mary, her assistant, and A.J., and she prepares the super sedatives to put you to your rest, you manage, albeit with my help, to lift your mighty head one last time. It is fitting. You have been the majestic one on our farm—eyes of a lion—always at the strategic place to watch your flock and keep any menace at bay.
And so, it is not at all inappropriate to borrow those words our Lord put in the mouth of a master, and use them for you. Yes it comes from Holy Scripture. Yes, it’s from our Lord, speaking about the duty we owe to God—returning with interest, what God has placed in our care. They are words of spiritual faith and faithfulness, but they urge themselves upon me here at the grave I have prepared for you.
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for over twelve years; in snow and wind and rain and blazing heat, you have watched and protected.
Well done, thou good and faithful servant. (Matthew 25.23)
Connie and I, and your many ardent fans, add “fare thee well, till we meet again.”