posted July 20, 2021
by Allison Hess, VLCE
Living in a human body—with a human mind—comes with baggage.
We are a species that does not always make the smartest or simplest choices.
In the words of one of my favorite fictional humans, Michael Scott from The Office: “I’m going to make this way harder than it needs to be.”
I struggle with my humanness.
More than 30 years ago I stopped eating meat. But I danced with dairy for years.
The lengths we humans will travel to deny and avoid are staggering.
Once I was strong enough to own who I am and stand tall in what I believe, I beat myself up for the years when I could not.
I looked to friends and mentors for forgiveness and absolution.
Turns out, these are gifts we give to ourselves.
Except, not always…
On a lovely August day awhile back, I visited FRIEND, an incredible farm animal sanctuary in England.
After mingling with volunteers and working on a project, I wandered off to a large field, drawn by the presence of a beautiful red cow.
The air shifted. My heart somehow lifted. I haven’t been the same since.
She was Rosie. We sat together.
Of course, my internal dialogue kicked in, “Suck it up!!”
But, somehow, this was different. As soon as those thoughts came, they went.
I’d never been able to truly lay down my guilt and sadness and shame about being human, about being so incredibly flawed.
Rosie listened. She, who had been for sale at a livestock auction 19 years before, bore witness.
She was a teacher, a healer, a philosophical guru. In her sweet and solid and knowing way, Rosie told me, simply, “Let it go”—just as clearly as I’m typing these words.
Others had said the same to me. But, when it came from Rosie, I finally heard.
Rosie helped to heal something in me on that beautiful summer day.
I wasn’t the same person after saying goodbye to Rosie.
Upon reflection, I realize I could have taken sadness from the experience.
Untold numbers of brilliant, kind, thoughtful, worthy individuals just like Rosie are brutally killed every day in the name of… I don’t know.
But, New Allison—the one Rosie helped cross that indiscernible line—didn’t carry that message home.
New Allison picked up hope. And I still carry that hope.
Because of all the places in all the world I could have been on that day, I got to share time with a truly incredible individual. Someone who wasn’t even meant to survive became someone who changed my life.
Rosie lived 20 years on this Earth. In this flawed and broken world that sometimes, sometimes, gets it right.
Let it go.
*Rosie came home to FRIEND after being rescued by Marion (the sanctuary’s founder) in 1998. Her story is magical; Rosie was the matriarch of her herd. She died peacefully, surrounded by love, at the sanctuary she called home. Thank you, Rosie.
Watch more about Rosie and the bonds she shared during her incredible life.
Allison Hess holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior from the University of Michigan, a Master’s degree in Education from Indiana University, and certification in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. As a 2018 graduate of Main Street Vegan Academy, she offers support for folks transitioning to vegan living. Allison is the Executive Director of Pets Alive, South Central Indiana’s nonprofit spay/neuter clinic. She has lived in Bloomington, Indiana for 20 years following geographical sabbaticals to Portland, Oregon and her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. Allison cares for a number of animals, including five hens rescued from animal agriculture named Opal, Rosie, Beatrice, Hattie and Edith Lillian.