Meet Freedom and her BFF Jeff Guidry. Freedom, who by all accounts shouldn't be alive today, lives at the Sarvey Wildlife Center, an extraordinary animal rescue sanctuary in Arlington, Washington, where she and Jeff have worked together for the last 10 years. Their story is a sweet one. One that I'd even venture to call a miracle.
A miracle? I know, I know. As we watch the news, read the paper, or even listen to the catty gossip around the water cooler, it's pretty tough to believe in miracles in our day. In fact, it's very easy to believe instead, that the world is going to hell in a hand basket and we're all destined to be either crispy or drowned before next Wednesday, but here's the skinny: There are places like Sarvey Wildlife Center, people like Jeff, and miracles like Freedom all around us. There are miracles in our children's faces and voices. There are miracles in the stories you'll hear if you'll only take a moment to really listen to your grandmother or your Uncle Phil. Miracles in your garden right now as spring begins to coax new life from the earth. If we'll just turn off the news, put down the paper, stop listening to all the whining out there, and allow ourselves to develop eyes to see, we'll discover that we live in a world filled with miracles. All we have to do is slow down a bit, open our our eyes to see and our hearts to celebrate. Give it a shot; you're gonna start finding miracles at every turn. Here's a good one to get you started.
From Jeff Guidry's story:
Freedom and I have been together 10 years this summer. She's my baby. When she came in she couldn't stand; both wings were broken, she was emaciated and covered in lice. We made the decision to give her a chance at life . . . From then on, I was always around her. We had her in a huge [topless] dog carrier, loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to lay in. I used to sit and talk to her, urging her to live, to fight, and she would lay there looking at me with those big brown eyes. We had to tube feed her for weeks.
[After 4-6 weeks] she still couldn't stand . . . [and] the decision was made to euthanize her if she couldn't stand within a week. You know you don't want to cross that line between torture and rehab, and it looked like death was winning. She was going to be put down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in on Thursday afternoon. I didn't want to go to the center that Thursday, because I couldn't bear the thought of her being euthanized. But I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone was grinning. . . I went immediately back to her dowl cage, and there she was, standing on her own, a big, beautiful eagle. She was ready to live . . .
We knew she would never fly, so the director ask me to glove train her. I got her used to the glove, then to the jesses, and we started doing education programs for schools in western Washington. We wound up in the newspapers, radio, and even some TV.
[Then], in the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I had stage 3, which is not good (one major organ, plus everywhere). I wound up doing 8 months of chemo. Lost the hair, the whole bit. I missed a lot of work. When I felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey and take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would also come to me in my dreams and help me fight the cancer. This happened time and time again.
Fast forward to November 2000, the day after Thanksgiving. I went in for my last checkup. [I'd been] told that if the cancer was not all gone after eight rounds of chemo, my last option was a stem-cell transplant. They did the tests, and I [went back on] Monday for the results. . . . The cancer was gone!
The first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her up, and we went out front to the top of the hill. I hadn't said a word to Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back. I was engulfed in eagle wings. She touched my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes, and we just stood there like that for I don't know how long. . .
You can email Jeff: firstname.lastname@example.org Sounds like Freedom doesn't need email. (Now there's an aphorism for you.)