Something very sad occurred in our home earlier this month. Pictured above is King, Sweet Boy#2’s beloved pet chicken. The Cousins purchased King for us. They gifted each of the boys with a fluffy chick after we lost our Newfoundland dog, Shamu. King was the undisputed leader in our coop, but she always ruled with benevolence and only a minimum of pecking.
My oldest brought her to me on a Friday, when she started not feeling well. We realized that she was eggbound. If we couldn’t get her to lay the egg within 48 hours, she would die. So I researched this chicken malady and awakened every hour all night long to treat her. I would give her a warm, 20 minute bath in epsom salts and then dry her off and tuck her into a quiet laundry basket with hot water bottles and towels for an hour of sleep. Then more baths, massages, enemas, the whole nine yards. All night and all day and then finally we lost her. The vet said that we were doing everything right…but it still didn’t help.
I cannot explain how hard and terrible this was. I did CPR on my father when he died. I was five feet away when my stepdad died of cancer. I have watched sorrow sweep through a room. But in that moment, when I told my boys that she was gone, I have never witnessed such a fierce and honest grief. There was no pretending and no being strong, only weeping and sorrow and pain. Maybe it was the fact that we hadn’t slept very much and that we had tried so very hard to save her? Perhaps there is a grave and terrible power in seeing your own children truly come face to face with death for the first time. Certainly it was that King was a very special hen.
King did school visits, snuggled on Sweet Boy#2’s lap when he was sick, sat up on bunk beds, rode on lawn tractors, took trips to the pond and the meadow, and hopped up in our window sill to roost. She even ran out to meet our car when I would drive up after picking up the boys from school. It has been over two weeks and just writing this makes me tear up. The Hunky Hubby was out of town and so I held three heart-broken boys as they wept and just tried to do my best.
Do you remember what it was like, the first time, when you lost that special pet, the one you truly loved? For me it was the guinea pig that my cousin’s poodle murdered. As I was laying on the top bunk, beside Sweet Boy#2, rubbing his back as he wept and listening to the other boys weep around us, I told him that story. As the reality of the grief surrounded us I knew the crux of the issue. We have two choices: Don’t love and Don’t hurt or Love and accept the reality of Hurt. I remember telling my mother that I would never love again, as we buried that little shoe box in the yard. What if I had chosen to do so? Would I have ever given my heart to The Hunky Hubby when he came around? What about each of my three beautiful sons as they were born? What kind of person would I be, what kind of home would they have had, if I had chosen not to hurt and not to love?
So we wept, together, on and on and on. We allowed ourselves to love and we allowed ourselves to grieve, because to do anything else would have been so very dangerous. God needs us to be a people who know how to love and therefore, we must also be a people who are willing to hurt.
So yes, that was a harrowing moment. That was why I have not blogged for some time, but also why I will pick myself up, brush the tears from my face, and get back to life. My sons were made to be people who can love and hurt deeply and so was I and so are you.