Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, July 27, 2020

When animals leave me, total strangers leave too, but I'm still here

Muddy in descent
"Spitting in the wind comes back at you twice as hard"
Lou Reed

I always resonated with that qoute from Lou. It can be applied to many things we do in life, or others do. But it also reminds me of the process of grieving–don't ignore it, don't toss it out because you want to move on to joy again...or it will come back twice as hard.

Whenever I have a wave of animal death, and they always seem to come in threes, I notice I usually lose a smattering of followers on the Apifera FB page. I don't necessarily know who they are [ nor is it a concern for me], and I probably don't even know them in real life, but it seems to be a consistent action some people take. I post pictures of beauty and life, and that includes the curve of life, the depths of life which includes death, and grief. It is not only how I process any moment I feel I need to process, it is a document of my life here. That's all it is.

Years ago, I asked a follower I hardly knew, point blank, why she unfollowed. She was embarrased and I realized it is not a question I have to ask, nor do I anymore. It's her choice and I realized I put her in an uncomfortable place. But at the time, I was surprised, and she told me she just got attached to my animals and then they would die. And she couldn't take it and needed a break from it. She has every reason to caretake herself, and step away from what makes her sad, that is her duty to herself.

A break from the death of my animals...I suspect that is why some unfollow after a string of deaths at Apifera. I never get to step out of the grief part of the work here, and have never expected to. I've never thought to myself, I have to step away from this part of my life, this death part and I'm grateful that somehow I'm wired like this.

Don't take this to mean I never cry, or ask why to the sky. I do. But instead of trying to walk away from it, I just walk through it. I write about it, I take photos to process it.

Do you know one of the beautiful moments with Muddy when he died, was holding his beautiful head in my hands, my face pressed up into his chocolate velvet ears-the ears I kissed evey morning when he walked into the bedroom. I said 'bye'...and he released. I could feel it.

For me, to not participate in the death of my animals, is cheating them and me. I mean, why would I write about the joys of birth, or the joys of the arrival of Pickles, but hide everyone from when one of my old soldiers finally falls? For me the mystery of birth is right up there with the mystery of death. Our society is very good at cutting them right down the middle, which is why we have elder people shut up in buildings right now-nobody wants to deal with it.

It is sad to say goodbye. But my writings and photographs and art are entwined with both life and death. If only our society could be entertwined with both...our elder years would be very different.