She held the baby lamb in her arms. It was cold in the barn stall and she could hear the rustling of horses in the other stalls. The lamb was growing cold too. It had died the hour before. She held the lamb and thought about the fresh grave in the family cemetery up on the hill. She’d lost the baby just shy of 6 months along in the pregnancy and the pain was still raw and ferocious. She held the lamb and rocked from side to side, crooning under her breath.
Her husband had gently tried to coax her away from the dead lamb but she wasn’t ready. Life is just endless letting go and letting go and letting go, she thought. “I need just a bit more time,” she said and he’d kissed the top of her head and eased out of the stall. She knew he was standing outside the barn, his hands tucked into his wool jacket, waiting for her.
She needed to go into town, she needed to buy supplies for the farm, she needed to start getting back into life, but the first time she’d tried it went okay until she saw the Easter baby outfits in the window of the children’s store. It took her breath away and she bent over in pain. She’d had to get back in the truck and wait for her husband to finish the shopping.
She heard a shuffling noise behind her in the stall.
“I’m guessing that’s you Casper,” she said. A little snicker sound of reply.
She rocked back and forth slowly. “One of these days you’re going to show up when everything’s just fine and dandy,” she said softly. “I’d like that. You listening, Casper?”
Another little snicker, a bit closer and then she could feel a warm breath on her ear. A horse muzzle was lightly resting on her shoulder and she could hear him breathing. She stopped rocking and sat there several minutes, her eyes shut. It was as close to a hug as a horse could give.
She reached up to pat the muzzle and it wasn’t there. She sat for another moment, then got up on her knees to lay the lamb in the little box her husband had built.
“Jon?” she called.
She heard the barn door creak open.
“I’m ready. I’m ready to bury the lamb now.”