3 January

Celebrating Simon

by Jon Katz
Celebrating Simon
Celebrating Simon

Simon died in the loving hands of people who knew him and cared about him, he was an exceptionally well loved donkey, he had bad luck and very good luck in his life. He suffered at the hands of neglectful humans, was rescued and healed at the hands of good people with big hearts.

Simone died quickly, instantly after several hours of suffering and disorientation, he was failing rapidly. At the end, he was conscious but I believe unaware of what was happening around him. I felt a powerful connection with him a few minutes earlier, Maria had gone into the farmhouse to get some warmer clothes – we had rushed outside earlier without much time to dress and it was bitter cold – and I sat with Simon.

“Thank you,” I said, “I love you very much.” And then I put his head in my hands, leaned over and said, “get up, Simon, get up.” I had said this to him before, when he came to us, when he lay stricken and crippled on the ground and could barely stand up. He stood up then. And this morning, when I urged him to get up once more, he struggled to his feet, slowly and painfully, and he did get up, he did stand up, and was standing still the vet came and we knew we had to put him down.

Simon was a charismatic and loving animal, people were powerfully drawn to him and  his story. The first thing Maria and I noticed about him, something that drew both of us to him, was his will to live. He wanted to live, he wanted to be part of the world, and I sat that again in  him this morning, when he stood up once more me, and tried to live. This time, life was too much for him, even his determination could not overcome the stroke that had paralyzed him, or his failing heart.

When I came home from my own heart surgery in July, Simon sniffed my chest and my scars and stitches very carefully, he went over ever inch. He wanted the story. He often checked my heart this summer, he would lean his head against my chest and I would scratch his ears and nose, something he loved.

In our own and different ways, we showed our  broken hearts to one another, Simon was my partner, an affectionate, intelligent, willful donkey. Simon could be a lot of trouble, as he was when he assaulted Rocky, our blind Appaloosa Pony, and he could be the sweetest creature in the world. He protected Lulu and Fanny to the end and greeted me every morning with his joyous bray.

I believe in celebrating life rather than mourning death. I am sad, but not only sad. Grateful as well. There is a big hole in our pasture, in our pole barn, on our farm, in our lives. Life will fill it. I celebrate Simon’s life in the best possible way, I will smile every time I think of him.

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