Goodbye to a Friend

Goodbye to a Friend

SimoneLipscomb (10)
Spirit, a few days before crossing over the Rainbow Bridge.

The bubbles switched direction as our group of twelve individuals sent our love and gratitude with each breath directed into our small wands. A chilly swirl of wind directed the bubbles down to the river where Spirit was removed and out over the river where she had spent many days in the Cold Hole. Suddenly they moved up and kept climbing into the clear, blue sky.

Spirit the Manatee crossed the Rainbow Bridge here on our river, January 1st, 2015. She was 8 feet, 3 inches long and weighed 617 pounds. She was between four and six years old.

We know that in her last weeks Spirit suffered greatly. She was 200 to 400 pounds underweight. She had severe pneumonia and skin lesions covering her belly. She had lost her way to warmer water and found the warmest place she could to survive.

While she appeared very weak and fragile, it is her strength of spirit that brought our community together and united us in an effort to save not only her but others of her kind.

Because Spirit made her presence known for weeks before a rescue was attempted, we became aware of two others that were in the river. One, her friend Magnolia, was rescued and is healing in the safety of warm water and loving care at Sea World Orlando. Nobody had seen Magnolia until New Year’s Eve. Four days later she was rescued.

So Spirit brought our attention to Magnolia and also brought our attention to the incredible heart that resides in our community. Someone called Magnolia Springs the Heart of the Universe. Clearly this was confirmed by the outpouring of support and love given to our manatee friends…and each other.

Often we yearn for a brighter outcome and want a happy ending for animals, especially those classified as ‘endangered.’ That’s understandable. But we take comfort in the absolute fact that Spirit united within our community fierce love and support that made a ripple that will continue to flow out into the world.

Let us keep the intention of love for all creatures great and small within our hearts and remember this beautiful, sweet being who graced our waterway with her presence. And let us practice love with each other.

Spirit being examined by a veterinarian from Audubon Zoology Park beside the river.
Spirit being examined by a veterinarian from Audubon Zoology Park beside the river.

Wendell Berry wrote:

“If we have no compassion,

we will suffer alone, we will suffer

alone the destruction of ourselves.”

Showing compassion, living compassion, saves not only life around us…it saves us.

With gratitude we say so long…but never goodbye. You will remain in our hearts forever sweet Spirit.

*******

SimoneLipscomb (4)
Some of our community gathered to say goodbye to Spirit. Photo by Cheryl Towler Cowles.

Jada, a teenager from Magnolia Springs who witnessed the rescue and passing of Spirit, added this to the memorial gathering for our manatee friend:

Even though Spirit passed away, our community came together because of her. Every person made a difference in her rescue. From helping with the net to spotting to just praying, each small act came together to make something big. We the town of Magnolia Springs will always treasure this once in a live time experience. I would like to share a poem from the National Wildlife Federation entitled “Advice from a Manatee.”

“Advice from a Manatee”

Breathe deep

Glide through your day

Have a gentle Spirit

Enjoy time alone

Eat plenty of greens

Keep your whiskers clean

Live large!

I think if we can take this advice from a manatee and continue working together as a community, we will be better and stronger for it.

*******

Remember Wendell Berry’s words….“If we have no compassion, we will suffer alone, we will suffer alone the destruction of ourselves.”

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3 Replies to “Goodbye to a Friend”

  1. Absolutely beautiful, Simone. Thank you for sharing Spirit’s final journey through your words and images. What a beautiful creature and a wonderful tribute!

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