Carter and I (the big boys and their dad were out hunting) went to a friend’s home to watch the butchering of their pigs. They had two of them, and it was time. So we went. Because that is one of the things you do when you homeschool boys. You go where the blood is.

And, apparently, you dress like Rambo.

It was a pretty gruesome experience. The smell. The blood. The mess of it all. And Carter wanted to touch everything. The guts, the spinal chord. He held the heart, still warm in his hands and we marvelled together at the structure, so like a human heart.

It reminded me, of course, of the book A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck, and the theme of death being a part of life. When he comes home from a day of butchering pigs, the father character, Haven,  says to his son:

Dying is a dirty business, son. Like getting born.

And I suppose it is. On the day after Remembrance Day, with the poppy still worn and the images still fresh. I suppose it is.

Carter has always been weirdly interested in death. The end of life. What might the experience of death be like, and will he immediately see God or will he have to wait awhile, like you wait in the doctor’s office? He’s hoping waiting is one of the things you no longer have to do in heaven. Sometimes, when life seems especially hard for a ten-year-old, he’ll say, Heaven is going to be great! He can’t wait. It is strange to me, the way he is so matter-of-fact about it all.

When he and I were driving to our friend’s farm for the pig butchering experience, I almost rolled the car. I was driving too fast on the gravel road, and I caught a rut, and the vehicle started fish tailing and then we spun around, gravel flying, and ended up in the ditch. I was sure we were going to roll, and I kept saying, Hang on, Carter. Hang on.

After, when we were okay and I could breathe again, I asked him if he was scared. And he said that for a second he thought we might die, but then he thought that wouldn’t be so bad. ‘Cause of the heaven thing, and all. Really, Mom, he said, it was kind of fun once I wasn’t worried about dying anymore.

This is what I learned on the day we watched the butchering of the pigs.

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