Spring Lambs


Spring Lambs

sheep-50914_640First published April  6, 2012 on facingcancer.ca

Is there a more pacific mammalian metaphor than the lamb?

Literature is replete with poetry and prose extolling the peaceful virtues of the lamb.  It is viewed in most cultures as a symbol of gentleness, softness and purely innocent charm.

And yet danger lurks around every bale of straw.  Those soft dewy eyes hide a terrible danger.

OK.  That’s maybe a bit over the top but here’s my point – for anyone undergoing chemotherapy and its unrelenting assault on the immune system even this lovely little creature takes on a hue of danger.

During March break, we had the very great good fortune to spend a marvelous three days at some friends’ farm in Markdale, Ontario.  The weather was unusual – 25 degrees C – and stupendously calm and stunningly sunny.  Our boys have never had a better time as they were able to spend entire days outside exploring the surrounding forest trails, spotting snakes, watching Daddy catch and kiss a frog to see if it would turn into a ‘pransome hince’ (it didn’t), and finding evidence of the local coyote population in the pile of wild turkey feathers that Grandpa fashioned into stabilizers for Gabriel’s homemade arrows.  Katie was at her peak enjoying that very brief respite that a two-week chemo cycle offers and Nana prepared some favourite meals.  The boys slept peacefully and quietly and through the night although it was their first time sleeping in the same room and for Samuel his first extended period away from home.

All in all this was an idyllic, bucolic experience and one for which we were most grateful.

But all the while danger lurked.  One of our planned activities was a visit to the Hayglen farm in Singhampton.  It is spring after all and what happens on a sheep farm in the spring?  Lambs.  That’s what.  Lots and lots of fluffy little bouncers and one very proud ram, Lloyd was his name, who fathered lots of twins and lots of tired but somehow happy looking ewes.

Our hosts were most welcoming.  They allowed the boys free run and after the normal initial reticence, Gabe and Sam, took to the lambs like ducks to water.  All the while though their Mom was very quietly freaking out.  She gave no hint to the boys.  She’s really great like that but all she could really see in the environment was swarms of invisible germs encircling her like the lambs on a teat!

Before we began this horrid trek through the cancer fields we neither of us would have for a second thought of avoiding an opportunity to cuddle with a wee lamb, to feel the warmth of two-day old wool against our cheeks, to see our children wide-eyed in wonderment as the little beasts gamboled about the barn.  But that’s what happens when your body becomes a war zone.  The most innocent activity imaginable becomes a seething pit of worry.

The outcome of the experience though was this – Katie showed bravery in the face of a lamb assault.  Sounds silly doesn’t it?  It is not.  She sacrificed her own feeling of wellness and well-being to ensure that her boys learned about the wonders of the world of new-born critters and there’s a lovely harmony in the entire circle of life and caring showed there.

My learning – danger can lurk where least expected but courage and love for others can help everyone overcome the hesitancy that can further remove us from the normal joys of daily life.

Thanks Kate for giving the boys a great few days at the farm – that includes this much larger and older boy as well.  You are such a great Mommy and wife.

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