Saturday, May 7, 2016

"Dear Bubba..."

Star & Lush
I’ve been sitting on this blog post for a few months now, with no intention of actually posting it. But something happened recently that knocked me off my tuffet.
It was a bad kidding. And I do mean B-A-D kidding. “Star” was over 6 years old and she was Katherine’s first goat. (Ironically, she was the goat in "It's a Shame But not a Tragedy".) "Star" was rather rotund to put it nicely, so no one suspected that she was pregnant. She’s too old to get pregnant, right? That last kidding really did her in, so she can’t get pregnant, right? Wrong and wrong. She went into labor on a Thursday afternoon.
By Friday morning, not much had happened, so Katherine stayed home to monitor the situation in case we needed to call the vet for a C-section. After consulting with the “Goat Midwife” committee (aka our goat show pals), we all decided to wait a bit. Saturday morning rolled around – nothing.
Katherine got to work. I won’t go into the details of what she did. Suffice it to say that she did a lot. Eventually, she realized that the kid had died in utero and was starting to bloat, thereby blocking the birth canal. Time for the vet.
The vet didn’t have any luck either. “Star” was going into shock, and Katherine made the call to put her down. Not an easy decision, but clearly the correct one. I kissed “Star” on the head and snuck into the house. I am such a coward about these things. Katherine is the brave one. I busied myself with the logistics of disposing of … the carcass. It wasn’t “Star” anymore in my mind.
OK, so why did this episode make me think of Bubba?
A few years back I accompanied Bubba to the Auction Yard to dispose of another … carcass. I sat in the truck the entire time while he paid the disposal fee in the office, while he backed the truck up to the “pit of death,” and while he put the dead goat on the pile of other dead livestock. I sat in the car with my hands covering my face, trying not to think of what it looked like (Rule #2: You Cannot Un-Know Something).
This time, I had to write the check (to “Petaluma By-Products” – what does that mean?? Hotdogs? Dog food? See "Auction Yard Hotdog") and then help Katherine heave the …carcass… onto the pile of other dearly departed animals. The image is burned, BURNED I say, into my memory. Ack.
Katherine took pictures with her iPhone; teenagers are creepy. But I won’t include those images here. Rule #2.
What reminds me of Bubba even more is that I watched him deliver “Star” some 6+ years ago. It was the first goat birthing that I had ever seen.
Not "Star" but you get the idea
Bubba and I had been “hanging out” for somewhere between 2 and 6 months, depending on how one might have calculated a start date. Therein lies the root of the problem, actually. I needed to know if we were “dating” (monogamous?) or what. And Bubba would dodge, saying, “Do we have to call it something?” That’s the conversation we had right up to the bitter end of the relationship - 5 years later. (Sarah, take note.)
ANYWAY… Bubba and I were supposed to attend a Christmas Party together that night with a people we both knew from the horse barn where we both rode (and met). The Barn knew by then that we were …doing something … but that party would’ve been our first public event together.
Then the goat went into labor. The first of many times that goat labor would interrupt my life. But that time was different. I was as nervous as if I were the one in labor. I had never seen ANY birth before, unless you count the “Puppies Being Born” video in middle school or the “Baby Delivery” video in childbirth class. Even at my own child birthing (7 times), I declined the nurse’s offer of a mirror so I could witness my child entering the world. Not my cup of tea.
I watched Bubba manage the process. From waiting on the sidelines, to pulling the kid out of the doe, to furiously rubbing the newborn baby goat and then clearing its airways with the “snot sucker” and little pieces of straw.
I was mesmerized. Dumbfounded. Awed. I still am - every single time. It never gets old. New life is a miracle. I guess that’s why I have 7 kids.
Katherine & Star, February 2010
ANYWAY … that tiny baby goat was “Star.” Her sister, born a few minutes later, was “Pepper.” Bubba gave the baby goats to Katherine and Bella for Christmas as their first goats to raise and show.
Fast forward, 6+ years, and there I was kissing “Star” good-bye. It still makes me cry to think about it.
It also reminds me of the demise of my relationship with Bubba. The end of an era, so to speak.

Katherine again (different goat)
Back to my “Dear Bubba” letter. David once told me that perhaps I should write a letter to Bubba to purge the pent-up emotions and thoughts about the relationship and its demise that were cluttering my brain. He assured me that it would be cathartic. (He was right – as usual!)
A few minutes ago, when I started this post, I thought I might actually include that letter in this blog. Or parts of it…? But then I came to  my senses. So, Bubba, if you want to read it, we can talk … you too, David.
The whole reason I write this blog, though, is as an open letter to my children. I will say that the process of writing that letter was extraordinarily therapeutic, and I highly recommend it as a way of processing grief.
Kids, are you listening? I am quite sure each and every one of you will get your heart broken AT LEAST once in your lifetime. Here’s one little way to process some of the pain: write a letter to the person (but do not send it).
Here are the highlights of my “Dear Bubba” letter:
1)  I am still deeply saddened by the breakup and miss the life we had together, even though I am sure to my very core that leaving was the right thing to do.
    2) I take responsibility for my part in the breakup. I could’ve done many things differently, such as reaching out to you more, being more emotionally available, and telling you exactly what I needed rather than making you try to read my mind.
3)   I’m sorry I misread your cues, and I apologize for putting you in a commitment situation that you weren’t ready for. 

4)   I thank you for helping me grow into the person I am now. As a direct result of our break-up I’ve done some profound “soul searching” that has enabled me to embark on the relationship that I’ve been waiting for all these years.
5) I thank you for loving my kids like they were your own. Katherine wouldn’t be the Goat Maven that she is today without your mentorship all those years. Bobby cherishes the special “Guy” time that you still carve out for him. You are one hell of a good father. 
The Early Days
 6)   I realize that neither of us could have been who the other one needed. I can’t blame an apple tree for producing oranges anymore than I can blame you for not being who I wanted you to be.

My life is still inextricably intertwined with Bubba’s because of our two young children. I’m ready to forgive myself and Bubba for our failed romance, and move forward with our new co-parenting relationship.
In the ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness, I extend to Bubba a peace offering: