I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that people (and animals) come to us at exactly the right time. I have long struggled with the phrase that there is a reason for everything. I knew in my head that it was probably true but there were some things that really stumped me. How could there possibly be a reason for some of the terrible things that happen?
Last year I developed a rather good friendship with Plonker, one of two pigs then living on my brother’s farm. Plonker was named by my nephews. I’m not exactly sure how he earned this name and I can’t remember what his friend’s name was. No doubt something apt to their then, thirteen and eleven year old’s minds.
I admit that I have been known to talk to inanimate objects (selectively) and so to talk to animals is not strange for me. My cat Penny and I used to have long conversations, each taking turns to speak. We didn’t necessarily know what the other was saying but we at least had our timing worked out. And I always felt she understood. So when I met Plonker and his mate it was quite natural for me to strike up conversation with them. One can get a lot of sense from talking to animals. Often much more than humans. For some reason Plonker has a special character and he became very special to me.
The time was the days immediately after our deadly earthquake in February, 2011. I had my parents staying with me, after they had lost their home and belongings in the quake. I had temporarily lost my car (for a few weeks) because it was parked trapped between two damaged buildings in a cordoned off part of town, and so I was reliant on my parents for transport. We were asked not to move around the damaged city if we could help it but because I had no water, no sewage, and for a while no power we opted to go out to my brother’s farm during the days. For some reason my parents wouldn’t go and stay out there. I think they wanted to be near their home, in the hope that they might gain access. That didn’t happen of course, and so for the sake of everyone’s mental health, we went to the farm (where water, sewage and power were operational) during the day and returned back to my home to sleep.
It was very stressful, and that is a big understatement. Actually it was probably the most stressful time of my life. Aftershocks continued, as we listened to news reports of bodies being dug out of collapsed buildings. The personality of both my elderly parents changed markedly at that time (my father died six weeks later as a result of the stress). The change in their personalities wasn’t really any surprise, considering what they were going through, but it was difficult for all of us, grandchildren included, to adapt. It was almost like suddenly having completely different parents to those we had known before. The only one who didn’t struggle seemed to be 10 week old L. She slept on regardless.
I quickly took up walking around the farm to get some space from everyone. It was also a chance to have a smoke (a habit I had taken up again when the quakes started several months earlier) which I attempted to do away from the kids. I regularly went down to the pig’s hangout to visit Plonker and his mate.
Finally someone talked sense. Plonker was interested to know if I had food for him. He would start to get excited about company when he saw me walking his way. I hadn’t completely forgotten that he was a pig but I felt appreciated, especially when I brought food.
I don’t know much about pigs but I understand they are social animals, and so when Plonker’s mate headed for the ‘dinner table’ (my vegetarian tendencies start to struggle at this point), Plonker seemed to be lonely. I used that as an excuse to hang out with Plonker more often. The thing about Plonker was that he had no expectations of me, and what’s more he didn’t seem rattled by the constant quakes. He was in my mind, the perfect company at the time.
Plonker has since made his own way to the ‘dinner table’ sadly. Thankfully I wasn’t told who dinner was until after I had eaten. The thought still leaves me feeling a little unwell, and I admit I haven’t formed such a close attachment to subsequent farm animals. Saying good-bye was not easy and while my nephews laughed at me giving Plonker a leaving present (a bag of fruit purchased just for him), he will always have a special place in my heart.
Plonker saved my bacon (pun intended). Spending time on the farm with him soothed the trauma of everything else happening, and the stress of suddenly finding myself living with my parents again (after nearly 30 years). Plonker was there at the right moment for me.
In the same way there have been special people along my way who have appeared in my life at just the right time. One was my friend A who I came to flat with just months before first getting sick. At the time she was recovering from a two year battle with depression and actually that was significant in helping me accept my own depression that would follow. We were only in each other’s lives for a couple of years and since have gone our separate ways, but I firmly believe that she was there for a reason.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it is more than just coincidence that particular people (and pigs) come into my life. There is a reason for these things, and actually I don’t need to know what that reason is, I simply have to accept them. I’m slowly realising that I don’t have to understand, all I have to do is accept the gift I am offered.
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”
― Jim Morrison