It was the message we prayed we would never have to send – well, not for many a year anyway – to our team. But this morning it was the one circumstance compelled that we do.
Little Oslo lost his battle with the world just hours ago – unable to surmount the terrible odds stacked against him from birth. Not only a farmed animal species but one whose precious mumma passed away in those vital first days of his life. Leaving the bewildered Oslo to cradle in by her decomposing side and struggle the best an immune-compromised little one could.
We closed the message with two simple and prophetic words, “Take care.”
If only such a kindness had been extended to Oslo in his first instance of life, our hearts would not be as heavy right now as they are. Yet, in finding the good in the bad, we would not be richer for his being, and he would not have felt kindness and known love.
To feel it, to give it, and to pass from this world bathed in it.
They say things happen for a reason. And perhaps they do. Perhaps in the big scheme of it all, Oslo’s time on this earth was always going to be short, yet the life lessons he delivered would be long.
To take care.
To take care of the vulnerable and the meek, to take care of each other, and to take care of ourselves – something that those of us in the animal protection movement so often forget to do.
For in such a capacity, we find the greatest of our humanity.
And this we found in taking care of Oslo.
Whether you met him in “sheepson” or via his story on social media, you could not escape little Oslo’s gentle yet so innocently piercing gaze. A gaze that found its way deep into one’s soul and sparked the best of one’s humanity to seek to keep him safe and protect him from harm. A gaze that looked up at you with such purity and said, “I’m okay, buddy; watch me trot along.”
Oslo loved being cradled in the arms of the humans who adored him and showered him with unbridled love and good wishes. He loved hanging with his buddies: Venezuela, Nepal and Manila. He loved his little bed and would so endearingly climb himself there with the clumsy awkwardness yet determination of a toddler – all of which caused us to love him even more (if that was at all possible). And, just like any toddler, he loved tottering off and exploring his world.
Oh, dearest Oslo, if only we could watch this one more time.
We will be forever strengthened for witnessing your resilience and your will to be brave in the face of life’s greatest adversity. Despite your tiny body refusing to play ball, we did everything in our power to will it to do so, until we accepted the realisation we could not. This came as we acknowledged that for you to suffer would mean far more than the pain of our grief. A painful grief we now hold, but one we shall exchange for your memory.
And if our love alone could have saved you, you would surely be with us now.
Impermanence, acceptance, surrender, power of grief, finding joy in the moment, realising that happiness is a state of our making, and to take care – you taught us so much, little man, dearest Oslo.
We need to pause our writing right now, for the tears are too great in our eyes, and the hurt in our heart is threatening to burst. We’ll go wipe those tears clear, know our heart will be threaded together with each treasured moment we had with you, and we’ll heed the lesson to take care of ourselves and come back to live and love on.
Empowered to do so for your being, dear one, Oslo. And although life seems so incredibly unfair right now, we know that sometimes it is. And we know, thanks to you, that our greatest contribution to that goal comes with our ability to take care.
To everyone who is hurting right now, please take care of yourself, reach out to loved ones or support organisations. Please remember, too, we are not weakened by doing so; in fact we are made stronger, as we are reminded that the greatest of our being is in our capacity to take care.
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