Henry, Dear Henry…
In the early hours of today, dear Henry pig nestled into his straw bed and drew in a breath.
It is something he had done a zillion times in his long life before this. But this time, it was different. Hours later, we were to find out why, for that was his last. So peaceful did he lie when found this morning, after failing to assume his normal jovial position at breakfast roll call, one observer remarked it was a beautiful death.
Which was truly fitting for such a beautiful pig.
That death can be considered something beautiful for a pig may seem odd, given the way most of these beautiful animals brutally die.
But Henry’s death was different, as was his life. For he lived much of his life at sanctuary and passed away there.
Doing both on his terms.
There is nothing quite like the relationship one has with an aged farm animal. That they have reached that pinnacle of life is a testament both to their resilience and to the human love that has nurtured it. And the wisdom they infuse is not lost on all they enthusiastically greet.
Dear Henry came into our lives over 12 years ago after the passing of his much-loved human. And whilst at first there was clear grief in his heart and step for this, and we worried for his future, he soon made peace with his new way of living. And whilst finding that place in our hearts we had opened for him came quickly, dear Henry took his time to find his place in his new herd.
Although he chose to sit on the outer circle of the troupe, it was clear they knew him, and he knew them. Each with their own nuances, they put their spin on the world, and it was indeed magical to watch how their days unfolded.
A true united nation of piggydom.
Growing old gracefully, as so few of his kind ever do, dear Henry witnessed the passing of many of those buddies along the way. Along with most of his teeth!
Carefully cooked vegetables then became his dinner as a more sedentary way of life became him. Yet he, too, had a youthful appearance about him that belied his advanced 17-plus years of age. This is no doubt this was due to his crossbred origins, which meant he escaped those inherited health issues that plague those commercial breeds.
It was impossible to look away from Henry and not see the image of the gentle and self-reliant soul he was. And, too, that snout mark he had made on your leg. The latter reminding us he was an artist. A great artist who painted his world kind. Never one to bully the other pigs or harass the human folk. Even his death – he gave no hint it was coming, sparing us the grief of watching his pain and having to make that most heart-wrenching of decisions.
Bless you, dear Henry, for that grace.
Yet the biggest impression this dear chap made was on one’s heart. To know Henry was to truly love him. For this reason, today a sombre mood embraces us all, our porcine pals included, as we embrace the many fond memories we have of dear Henry. While it may have been a tear from some, a story from another, it was the gentle “nff, nffs” that came from his buddy, Emma Pig, as she solemnly paid her respects that reminded us all that love, loss and grief are emotions we all have access to, regardless of form.
Dearest Henry, buddy, it has been both an honour and a privilege to serve you. You never caused a fuss or a bother, save when you decided you wanted Priscilla’s dinner too! And we know that the growl you sometimes offered, of which you never intended to follow through, was in true keeping with the “drama queen” antics of your kin and not a reflection of you.
We trust now, dear Henry, that you have found your beloved Sarah and can relay we fulfilled our pledge to love and care for you. And whilst now we would normally say Rest In Peace, we know you will be having one “Wow” of time, as all pigs should. So we shall say this: Henry dear Henry, thanks for the memories; we shall cherish them as we did you.
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