May 19th, 1821

I do not know uncle George. Not that I ever thought I really did, but what I realized today is that I have no right to assume an apparent superficiality does not veil a certain complexity, a depth, an inspired solitude.

At noon, aunt Emeline left for town where she was meeting with the mayor’s wife I believe. I did not know where uncle George was. The maids did not know whether to prepare a meal for him or not. I was not very hungry and only took a slice of lemon pie baked this morning. I ate it while walking in the garden. The wind was absent and the nature still. I walked slowly towards the horse stable, pie crumbs falling on the grass, ants changing their path to collect them. I was hoping the gardener’s son was working in the stable, taking care of horses. I was already imagining his compassionate hands stroking a patient white horse.

When I approached the stable, a warm, earthy smell rose from it. It reigned the same silence you hear in churches during prayer, a silence interrupted by the sound of children playing with their mothers’ bibles, men wiping the sweat off their forehead, old ladies kneeling slowly, a priest muffling a cough. I could only see three of the five horses uncle George owns. I could not see the mare who I know was pregnant. One of the box stalls was empty. I thought uncle George took the horse for a ride.

I approached the other stall, the mare’s one. Ruby is her name. She was there, lying down. Uncle George was there too, kneeling beside Ruby’s face, his back facing me, his body leaning forward, his head against her neck, one hand caressing her long ear. I stood there for a moment. I know uncle George’s knees hurt when he stands up after dinner. But there he was, his old body folded near this large animal, like a child sleeping next to a dog. He was whispering to Ruby things I will never know. She sighed a few times. Uncle George respectfully put his hand on Ruby’s belly. There was hay on the bottom of his pants, dust in the air, softness in his voice, maybe poetry in his words.

He was a different man than the one I thought I knew, a man who seemed to measure the sacred nature of all life, the deep and thick mystery that surrounds our relationship to other species, our place among them, a mystery more full of wonder, faith and humility than the one a man on a cross inspires.

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