Not long ago, I watched an HBO movie entitled, Temple Grandin. It is the true story of a woman who is autistic. The cast and movie won 7 Emmy Awards and Claire Dane won the Golden Globe award for her portrayal of Temple Grandin.
I was intrigued with the insight of this woman. She turned what some look at as a handicap into a gift. In her teen years, she was enrolled at a boarding school where the science professor takes a special interest in her. He discovers the unique way her mind works.
Temple has a special talent with animals and she has a special love for a particular horse at the school. The horse was ill and they had to put him down. Temple came in just after, hid from sight and watched as they covered the dead horse.
After the men left, she was confused at what happened and went to the horse to look at him. As she stood there, her professor came in concerned how she might respond to the horse’s death. He re-covered the horse and as he did Temple said, “Where did he go?”
“I don’t know, heaven, somewhere.” Then her professor went on to say: “Temple, when people or animals die, they stay with us in our minds; we can still see them.”
Later in her life, after graduating from college, Temple decides to do her graduate study in cattle husbandman. The first day, the students tour through each phase of a slaughter house. They are shown how a cow is slaughtered and the students watch the procedure. As the animal is killed Temple intensely asks: “Where did it go?”
The animal is being raised up by machinery and the trainer says: “Meat processor.”
Temple is not easily put off by him because she feels there is something more to this. Again she asks,”No, where does it go? It was here, now it is meat, where did it go?”
The trainers at the slaughter house didn’t see or understand what Temple saw. She recognized the life of the cow was something greater than just the body. She recognized the spirit was what gave the cow its breath of life.
Several years later, Temple’s beloved professor passes away. While at the viewing and funeral, she shows her love and respect by placing a cattle pin, which is a very personal treasure to her, on the body of this dear man and then proceeds to leave. Her mother, feeling Temple doesn’t understand, jumps up to stop her and explains that it is not over yet.
She lovingly says to her mother: “He’s not there; I have him in my mind.”
The depth of her understanding is to say the least, touching.
It’s hard to have the people we love leave us; to not have the warmth of their presence at all times; to lose the joy of the touch of their physical body. It takes a great deal of faith to recognize their body was only the tabernacle or house for their spirit which gave that body its breath of life.
If we can grasp this and hold our loved one in our mind and trust they are gone only temporarily from our presence, it will bring us an amazing comfort and peace. If we can put it in our hearts to believe there is a plan greater than what we can fully understand, we can have our loved one with us all the time. We can see them through the memories of our mind’s eye, and those memories will bring us joy… if we let them.
Lori Wood 2011