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Life Lessons From An Alpaca

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Many of you may already know this, especially if you are in our community, but for those who don't, we have had more than just recovery to deal with the past 3 years. In 2018, almost exactly 1 year after D-Day (disclosure) we found out our 10 year old daughter had a very aggressive spine disease known as scoliosis. Our lives were once again thrown topsy-turvy into a life of doctor appointments, physical therapy sessions, and trips to see specialists in NYC. Our daughter had to be braced 20+ hours a day which would be hard for anyone. Add in tween hormones and middle school and you can only imagine the difficult days we had. There were many tears and "Why me, mom?" in the initial diagnosis. Oh how I could relate to that question! That question of, "Why me?" went through my head a million times after D-day. It's a question of trying to make sense of a senseless situation. This past fall, I took my kids to a local alpaca farm. We live in rural KC and have a deep love for all things 4 legged and furry. As we pulled up to the farm, we were welcomed by the owner, known as Yaya, who has his own amazing story of restoration after his wife died of cancer some years ago. Her death is what propelled him into starting his alpaca farm which is now a KC favorite for young and old alike. The kids and I walked into the barn. The fresh smell of all things "farm-y" made my heart pitter-patter with excitement. The organic aroma put my heart at ease as I realized this would be a therapeutic experience for us all. What better way to make you smile than connect with an animal? And of all things...ALPACA'S! A heart in recovery yearns for a heart of rejoicing. What happened next, I will never forget. Never. The farm had a young alpaca, not quite a year old yet, who was born about 10 months earlier on a cold day in December. They named her, "Christmas". When Christmas was just a few days old, they quickly saw that her 2 front legs did not form properly. They were encouraged to put her down, as she would never learn to walk and would most likely die. Most farmers would have listened. But not Yaya. Yaya, who by this time had been remarried, and his wife thought there was hope for Christmas. They started calling around, and eventually found someone who would design and make orthopedic braces for Christmas. They were not sure if it would work, and it cost quite a bit of money, but they felt Christmas was special. She was worth the risk. Slowly, over time and with her new braces on, Christmas learned how to walk. Now she is the most famous alpaca on the farm and has lived up to her name of bringing that special "Christmas magic" to the farm, all year round. But there was no greater magic for this mommy's heart than seeing Christmas sitting sweetly next to my daughter, the two of them bonding over curvy legs and curvy spines. There was an unspoken word between the 2, and as I sat there, tears streaming down my cheeks,, I silently thanked God for Yaya...thank God Yaya didn't listen to everyone else who said he was foolish to spend so much money on Christmas. Thank God for Yaya, who saw little Christmas not as an inconvenience but as an opportunity. Because of him, my daughter had a pal. A furry version of herself, to sit by for an afternoon and just be. The literal meaning of 'Christmas' is Mass of Christ. While I know the word 'mass' is referring to the mass service held in churches to remember the death and resurrection of Christ, for the sake of fun, I'm going to put a spin on the word and view it in reference to another definition of "mass": a large but non specific amount or number. As I sat there on my log bench, I could easily see the mass of Christ over my daughter, and over me, too. It didn't look like fireworks or marching bands, but looked like a simple exchange between 2 living creatures on the floor of a barn. And it was really, really profound. In the midst of recovery, in the midst of disease, in the midst of "fill in the blank"...God see's. He knows. He loves and He provides. He is LIGHT and TRUTH when all else seems lost. It's simple moments like this one that reminded me throughout recovery that I am not alone. Nor are you. Cling to your Alpaca, too, will discover more and more that Christmas really does happen all year round.

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