“—and the whale music. They’re in tune. It’s a true symphony, that’s what it is. It connects to the soul of the fish and all them scallops and shrimps and lobster, and even cod . . .” …It’s a dance, nature in perfect harmony! Think about it!
from: A Possibility of Whales
by Karen Rivers
Algonquin Young Readers, 2018
A baby orca was born on July 24, 2018, and lived for about a half hour. A mother orca is pregnant for 13-16 months. The baby stays with her for at least 2 years. This baby was the first to be born to its pod in three years.
According to researchers, a mother will carry her stillborn calf for a day or so before letting go. But this baby’s mother (as of yesterday) is still carrying it through the ocean depths. It’s been almost two weeks.
The pod in the San Juan Islands of Washington State has been labeled endangered since 1999, and critically endangered since 2005. There are 75 individuals. The dire circumstances for these orcas rest on the dwindling population of Chinook salmon, their primary food source. Tahlequa, the devoted mother, has brought the plight of these orcas international attention.
I think one of Life’s most important lessons is learning how to let go. Of stuff, ideas, pets, parents, family, friends.
It is not an easy lesson. Tahlequa’s grief is a stark reminder.
When I was eleven, my best friend died of viral pneumonia. One day she went home from school, and two days later, …
Since then, I have said goodbye to my great-grandmother, grandparents, parents, relatives, and many good friends. And plans and pets and playthings. It's always sad, sometimes excruciatingly sad.
So how do we deal with the profound sadness and deep feeling of loss that is grief?
Alfred Lord Tennyson told us that “’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I believe that, so I know that living in seclusion or isolation from others is not an answer.
Maybe the real lesson is *not* that Life Hurts or that Sadness is Inevitable, but that because each of us *has* experienced hurt and loss and sadness, we can show real empathy and kindness to each other, human or not.
Still working on Connections: my word of the year, 2018. (See 1/2/18 New Year, New Word, if you want!)
You can see video of Tahlequa on YouTube here:
You can find out more information about the whales of the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound here:
An excellent autobiography of a marine biologist is Listening to Whales by Alexandra Morton.