A reason for silence and remembering

Some things are just too hard to write about when they are happening. When you are in the midst of chaos, heartbreak, survival, and trying to find some order to life, you just can’t put it all into words. Really, beginning last November – but mostly since January – we have been living beside disaster and trauma but not wanting to touch it directly. Writing about it is certainly putting your finger right on it and pushing to see if the bruise still hurts. It does still hurt, but we’ve put enough distance between us now that we can manage this pain when we feel it.

Early in the morning of January 11th, Martin woke up to the sound of Margot’s babies screaming in the baby monitor. He saw flames around them and ran out the door crying “Fire!”. I woke up and saw what was happening and called 911 and ran out on the deck. I saw him bring the babies out and then Aggie. It was a blur and I just remember him closing the door and me calling for Margot so loudly. He hollered back that he couldn’t get her. There was nothing we could do. he brought the goats into the house and the babies were huddled up on towels beside the bath tub, while Aggie was laying at the entry not knowing what to do.

While we were waiting for the fire trucks, Martin thought it might be time for us to leave the house and gather everybody in the vehicle. I ran through finding cats (two ran away into the woods), gathering up Fern and the other cats. I tried to rouse Elsie but she was difficult to wake and on my way back into the house to get everybody out, I slipped and fell hard on my hip against an icy rock. That, I believe, is when a terrible thirst came over me and I couldn’t do anything more until I stood at the sink at drank water. With everybody in the car, including the goats, cats, puppy Fern, and kids we could only watch and wait. The fire trucks came and put the water on the house first.

The next months are a blur. We were sleepless because we were taking care of Eliza and Bingley, and house training a puppy. One of got up to feed the goats and the other went out with Fern. Martin had post trauma flashbacks and there was more than enough shame and self blame to go around between us. Why had we not read more about heat lamps? I should have just stayed out there with them. Why did you close the door on Margot? What if she had made it out? Why didn’t I check on them when I couldn’t sleep? Maybe those were my instincts telling me they needed me. We loved Margot. She was so friendly and let me love on her. I trusted her that she knew what she was doing and she really did. She gave birth to two beautiful goats and did everything she needed to do. My dream for her was that she could come to her new home and just be with her babies and not need to give us milk or have any more babies. She could just live her life and relax. That was not to be, but we do have her girl Aggie still and she has taken on the role of leader. She gets cranky when we go for walks and she doesn’t really want to. That reminds me of her mom. We also have Eliza who is so special and cute to us. She loves to be cuddled and when the weather is nice and we are sitting down, she is so quick to get up in our laps and settle in for a nap. Mr. Bingley didn’t make it past 8 weeks and he probably would have survived if Margot had been around to raise him.

In the spring, we thought we would need young friends for Eliza when we brought her and Aggie back to their new barn to live. I traveled west and brought home Gloria and Gilbert. They have been a very happy addition to our pet family. I think Eliza appreciates their presence, but they definitely have her at the bottom of the pecking order. Maybe someday she will move up in the order of things, but I think it will require bringing in a new goat or two.

It has been almost a year now. The barn rubble is gone and I have planted some patchy grass seed in its footprint. We have tried to replace the belongings that we lost when possible. I would like to plant trees or a garden on the site and call it Margot’s garden. We have tried to be gracious towards ourselves while still making sure we have learned some lessons. When you need help, ask for it. Give yourself time to do something properly and this requires looking ahead to possible delays or hurdles to overcome. Be prepared with research and supplies. Everything does not always work out, so don’t count on it. Maybe these are the lessons that people who live in the country expect newbies to learn. I just wish we could have come by the learning in a different way.

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