Conversations With Goat
So, I was sitting outside on my front porch when I heard an all too familiar voice cut through the night.
"What are you doing out here this late at night?" My goat was climbing cautiously up onto the porch. His mostly white fur caught the light of the full moon.
"I don't sleep at night anymore. My body is old and so used to being up nights I just don't sleep."
"Bull. You sleep like a rock on your nights off, or at least you try to. I know you, don't lie to me. Something is wrong, I can see it in your face."
I laughed a little in spite of myself. He was right, something was bothering me. "I'm getting old, Goat."
"You're not that old."
"Well, I guess not as old as some. But, there are some days that just remind you how fleeting time is and how short and precious life can be."
We both stared off into the dark for a while. The night was palpable, heavy. A glaring buck moon shone a pallid hue across east Texas, causing an uneasy stillness. Bats did not swoop and coyotes did not whoop. Death knew it was being watched.
"I'm gonna go inside and grab us a beer." He liked a frosty cold one when the conversations got deep and I suspected he knew where this was going. I didn't watch, but I heard him go and and then come back out. He popped the top on two bottles and took a seat across from me at the picnic table. The pop and fizz sounded like a rock concert against the still of the night.
"You know, goats don't worry about such things."
He shifted, settling his haunches on the seat built for human butts. "Mortality, existentialism, daughter's getting married."
He knew what was really bothering me, he always knew. "She's my baby girl, Goat."
"I know, I know. And now she's a grown woman; or as close to a grown woman as she's going to be."
"Letting go is hard. It's harder than I ever thought it would be."
"Well, you could always sell her to some funky looking dudes at a flea market."
"What are you trying to say, Goat?"
"Well, that's how goats do it. I mean, how much are you getting paid for her?"
I laughed. "I'm not getting paid for her, I'm giving her away."
He had a puzzled look on his face. "Okay, so let me get this straight. You don't want to lose her, but you're giving her away for free?"
"Yeah, yeah that's how it works with people."
"People are weird. You must really like this guy you're giving her to."
"He seems like a good guy. I wouldn't giver her away so freely if I didn't think he was alright."
We sat there in the night sipping on our beers and watching nothingness pass by at an alarming rate.
"You know what the funny part is?" I was the one to break the uncomfortable silence.
"I still remember the day Caitlyn was born. She was so little."
"She still is little. Isn't she a legal midget?"
"No, she's not a midget, she's just short. But, when she was born she was so tiny. I think she could have fit in the palm of my hand. She was the most precious thing I'd ever seen. Never in a million years did I ever imagine that I would have to give her away one day. I remember, she cried and cried and cried. When they first handed her to me she stopped crying for just a second."
"Then she started crying again?"
My goat started laughing. It was a deep belly laugh that I swear they could have heard all the way up in Canada. "She started crying 'cause she was all like 'oh good lord, that's my daddy!"
He rolled around on the ground before composing himself and climbing back up onto the picnic table. He wiped the tears of laughter from his little goat eyes and sighed. "I remember the day she came home from the hospital. You were so nervous you threw up."
It was my turn to laugh, but not quite as hard. "That I did; that I did."
A single bat flew across the moonlight, dipping and swaying through the night.
"I still remember writing my thoughts down in her baby book. It went something like 'When you were born, I looked into your eyes. I saw your mother, I saw my family and I saw God.' To see the face of God, the most valuable thing on this Earth and then to willingly give it all away. It just makes you think of your own mortality. Another chapter in your life that's closing and bringing you closer to the end. Have I done all the right things? Have I made all the right decisions? Probably not. Was I there all the times I needed to be? No, no I wasn't; and I hate myself for it. But, I didn't know what else to do. I've never been 'not lost' and I don't think I ever will be. But today, today I'll be there. I'll walk my daughter down the isle and we'll both enter new stages of life. Today I'll give away the greatest thing I've ever owned and grow a little bit older."
My goat finished his beer and hopped down from the bench, shaking his head. "People, sheesh."