I just found 5 dead baby hens and a turkey on my living room floor.
I woke up this morning and thought I saw the dog laying by a rather large mouse. We get teeny little field mice in the house and she loves to catch them, but this was HUGE. When I got closer, I realized it was a little black chick. In my 4am mind-fog, it took me a while to look around the room and see that the floor was covered in lifeless little chicks. I was sad for the birds but mostly sad for my girls. I wanted to wake them up and tell them. I wanted them to sleep all day so I didn’t have to tell them.
They took the news rather well, and started arranging the funeral right away. A hole was dug. Flowers were picked. Chairs were arranged in rows around the grave. We had to wear black (luckily my pajamas were black). At the service, there was a solemn procession of dead baby chicks, each laid in the ground gently and called by name. There was debate about which song should be played, but in the end Maddy sang a little song of tribute to all the pets we’ve lost over the years (2 dead rabbits, 1 dead duck, 2 dead turkeys, 3 dead dogs, 5 dead chickens, a parakeet, some fish and now…. all these dead chicks….). Evelyn said a few words “I love you and I miss you,” which the kids tell me is her standard funeral speech) and Grace chose not to speak, she just cried and said “I loved my turkey.” I apologized to the birds for not making sure the dog was locked away last night. None of the kids turned to me and said “So it’s your fault.”
I find it amazing how well they were able to move on with their lives and embrace the process of laying the chicks to rest. The kids have brought the baby chicks outside with them to play every day. They’ve been vigilant about making sure the chicks have food and water. They cradled them in their tiny hands, cautious of the potential for broken wings and the danger of falling from high places. They comment daily on how the birds are growing and seem to notice the smallest amount of growth on their wing feathers or in the shape of their beak. They notice differences in the chick’s personalities. One is always a little bossy with the others, one is somewhat fearful, one is reluctant to be held for long while another happily hops up into their hands and snuggles down as if it their fingers were nest, even climbing up to grace’s shoulder like a parrot. I love that my children notice the differences between each chicken’s personality and treat each one as an individual.
I love how the kids aren’t focusing on the slaughter, the sadness or the destruction and they’re instead focusing on the funeral. There hasn’t been any talk of getting new chicks or dwelling on the sadness of the ones who are gone. There hasn’t been much hatred for the dog (it’s just what dogs do).
Anyway, I’m just impressed with their gentle little hearts. They’re so compassionate, so sweet, so full of love and so ready to love again even after a loss.
Later this day, the kids found a baby robin stuck in the boiler room and nurtured it with drops of water and earthworms until a friend of ours came by with 5 new baby chicks. These ones aren’t getting the play-time the others got (mainly because it’s been raining) but they’re fiercely protected. Sometimes I wish I could love as freely as the kids do, no fear of getting hurt and no hesitation when it comes to giving themselves. If I learn half the lessons they’re offering me, I will be a better person just for being their mom.