It's three days after Thanksgiving and as I'm sitting here, sleep-deprived with tears streaming down my cheeks (I'll explain...), I can't ignore the fact that despite the sadness I'm feeling right now, my heart is so full of thankfulness.
On Tuesday, we, along with three other rescues, received several baby goats and lambs who were saved from a horrific fate at a sale barn. The babies were the worst of the worst -- the smallest; the sickest; the ones who needed us the most. As of tonight, 4 of the 11 animals from this rescue have passed on, despite the very best efforts to save them. We received 3 (2 newborn lambs and a goat kid) as part of the rescue, and so far, ours are hanging in there, but as we continue to receive daily (and sometimes hourly) updates about the state of the remaining babies with our sister rescues, our nervousness continues to grow, as animals this young and in this poor of state can go downhill very quickly.
The last few days have been a whirlwind of chaos and emotion. Our schedules have been turned upside-down to accommodate the babies' feeding schedule. Every 3-4 hours we're up, bottle-feeding them and wishing we could grow an extra hand or two to make the task a bit easier. Thanksgiving dinner with our family was cut short. Things that we planned on getting accomplished this weekend didn't happen. The only bathroom in our house is now the lamb and kid nursery and our washing machine is working overtime to keep up with all the dirty laundry they're making. Our focus has been 100% on these babies since they arrived. And I know the other organizations involved with this rescue have done the same. And that's why losses like the one I learned of a few hours ago are so hard to swallow. But, this is rescue. This is our new reality. This is why we continue to put everything on the line for the animals. The animals need us to be their voices -- to fight for them -- and as hard as it is for me to push on sometimes, I am thankful that I've found my purpose.
I'm thankful that I've had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people that I know because of this work. That I've formed friendships with a small group of fellow rescuers who I can turn to for advice, who I can celebrate victories and mourn losses with. They get me. And I get them.
I'm thankful for the people who follow us along on our sanctuary's journey. They feel like family and their words mean more to me than they'll ever know.
I'm thankful for a husband who lets me be me, who has embraced all the craziness that is rescue even better than I have and who doesn't get angry at me when I agree to take another pig. Or three.
I'm thankful for a good job with an understanding boss and a generous time-off policy. I can't tell you the last time I used a sick day for myself, but I've lost track of how many I've had to use for an animal emergency.
I'm thankful that there were two more vegetarians at the Thanksgiving table this year because they've been touched by the animals at our sanctuary and came to the realization that they can't eat a being as wonderful as a chicken or a pig.
I'm thankful for the challenges that I face each day and the constant opportunities to learn new things to make me a better rescuer.
I am thankful for each and every animal who comes into my life.
I am thankful that this is my life.