A few years ago a couple from Ulverstone asked if we could take in their two white ducks.
They had been hand-reared in town and their yard had become too small for them.
Our property was ideal, with a dam full of water and several other ducks for company.. or so we thought.
On arrival, we freed Millie and Mildred near our dam expecting them to take to it like a duck to water…. but not Milly and Mildred.
They waddled straight past us to the back door of the house.
And they were content fossicking around the garden just as long as the house was in sight.
After several weeks I coaxed them into a carry cage and took them down to the dam.
Lifting them ever so gently from the cage, I quickly turned and threw them as far as I could out onto the water.
I immediately regretted it!
I don’t think those poor ducks knew what water was.
They flapped their wings and paddled their little feet so fast they literally walked on the water.
They thought they were going to drown… they were terrified.
After making it to dry land, they quickly quacked their way back up to the house.
They had so many fun adventures together, they were inseparable and completely in sync with each other.
If one took a left step, so did the other. If one quacked, the other responded.
They had hourlong conversations, which made us believe they were probably girls.
But then, they never laid any eggs or got clucky so they might have been boys.
We never figured out what sex they were, we simply accepted them for who they were.
Google informed me that ducks aren’t a species that have a mate for life.
Simple observations of our other ducks confirmed the fact that normal ducks don’t care about commitment because our black drake humped everything in sight, including our chooks.
Not Milly and Mildred.
They didn’t hump anyone.
They were like Siamese twins, they were completely at one.
Late last week, Grada and I were feeling a bit flat…… then it dawned on us why!
One of our precious white ducks was showing signs of impending death.
Water wasn’t running off its back anymore.
The feathers were dirty.
She had trouble moving around.
Even waddling was an effort.
Let’s call her Milly for the ease of this story.
Grada and I observed Mildred with apprehension. What was going to happen to her if Millie gave up the ghost?
Would she die from a broken heart?
We were fearing the worst.
Grada suggested taking Millie to Johanan (our son, the local vet) to see if she could be saved.
But in our hearts of hearts we already knew the answer.
“I could break her neck and stop her suffering,” I briefly suggested.
I grew up on a farm and released many rabbits and chucks into the afterlife, it was often the most compassionate option.
But in this case we decided to let Millie do her own thing, in her own timing.
That was the least we could do for her – to let her die in dignity.
And then one morning she was gone.
She must have died and some other creatures had made short work of her remains.
Mother Nature is clever like that.
Our attention was now turned to the remaining soul sister Mildred, who was sitting on the back doormat.
All-day long we observed her.
She ate happily. She quacked and waddled around.
Grada reckoned she needed a bit of healing, but I couldn’t see or feel anything out of the ordinary with her.
I was surprised because they had been inseparable their entire lives.
Then it occurred to me that Mildred could perhaps still see and feel Millie’s presence as if she had never left.
What if she hasn’t left? I continued to think all day…. She might just have concluded her mission ‘in the flesh’ and is now closer to Mildred than ever, hovering around her in spirit to make sure she is alright.
Grada and I were feeling sad, but not Mildred.
She was teaching us something here.
I swear animals see much more than we can.
Our cats and dogs would often stare fixedly at an object and we would follow their gaze but couldn’t see a thing.
In the end, letting Millie and Mildred do their own thing was the best decision we could have made.
Its hard not to interfere or intervene sometimes when we see beings in distress.
We often want to rescue our loved ones or want to make it better for others.
It seems counterintuitive to sit back and do nothing.
But its good to remember that dying is a sacred process..
That there is an invisible force at work behind the scenes that is taking care of everything.
The best thing we can offer is our presence, or our beingness, without doingness.
The ending of life can be intensely private.
Often people die on the toilet and perhaps the reason is that they crave a bit of privacy.
You sometimes hear stories of a loved one dying just when the partner left the room to make a phone call.
We need to remember that timing is perfect, even if it doesn’t seem like it to us, even if it hurts our feelings.
…that everything is going according to a perfect plan and life is unfolding just as it should.
We recently read an article about a doctor who was involved in a bad motorbike accident while wearing only shorts and a singlet.
Needless to say, he sustained deep gravel filled open wounds plus a fractured jaw.
He refused all treatment and allowed his body to heal itself. His colleagues wanted to help clean up his injuries but he refused any interference.
He was fascinated by the healing that unfolded.
Over several months a great ugly scab formed, filled with earth and gravel.
He resisted the temptation to pick at it. After a long time, it simply fell away to reveal beautifully healed flesh and skin.
One day about 6 months later, he was relaxing in the sun when suddenly he heard a loud clunk.
Then he noticed his jaw had come back into alignment and he was able to chew properly again.
His body had done it all by itself.
So the moral of the story is to believe in yourself and have trust in the power that created your body.
That same power can heal your body today.
And that same force of energy is unlimited, all-knowing and immortal.
Endings are also new beginnings.
There are times to fully surrender, ‘let go and let God’ as the saying goes.
And there are other times when we need to step in and help.
Often the hardest thing is to do nothing… because for that we need to trust.
Lots of love,
Pete and Grada