How you feel when your chicken dies.

This week could have gone better. It was an eternity long, for starters, and while I never got tired of the snow and the bitter cold of this past winter, I am weary of the rain and the 50′ and the never-ending grey of this pseudo-spring.

Tonight after work, I had a dinner of wine, pizza, and chocolate cake with Lola while our boys got mad at each other and made up in the other room, overheard as a nonstop cacophony of absurd noises. Friendships that are two decades in the making are easy and deeply comfortable.
After coming home and getting Isaac to bed, I went out to check on my chicken girls. I’ve been letting them free range around our yard during the day for a few weeks. They take dust baths in the sand while Isaac does whatever he does down there involving trucks and pails and shovels. They sleep in the sun, lying on their sides with their legs sticking straight out. They hear me come home and run to the slider door on the back porch and wait for me to open it and give them a treat.
Tonight though, Bicken wasn’t in the coop. And my heart sank.
I found her down near the bonfire pit. It must have been a hawk, but it doesn’t really make much difference does it? I knew it was a risk you take when you let chickens free range and I don’t regret it; taking their little zombie, straight legged naps near the flower beds they’ve ripped up must be far more enjoyable than watching it all from the confinement of a fenced in pen.
I have been crying for 2 hours since I found her. I cry thinking about Chicken Bicken out there by herself, and if Bicken was scared, and about Isaac getting up out of bed to bring his bawling mama Kleenex, and thinking about digging a damn grave for a chicken in the rain in 50′ weather at the end of another grey day at 8:45 at night. I’ve cried because my brain is wired to automatically temper my sadness with remembering child soldiers in Congo and the horrors of human trafficking and a voice says, “Pull it together, Sara! It was a chicken and you are blessed immeasurably and how you are acting is absurd in comparison to the innumerable atrocities around the globe!”
Last night, when my girls were both still safely tucked into their straw beds, I finished The Empathy Exams: Essays, by Leslie Jamison. Before I handed it over to Lola to borrow tonight, I underlined the following for when I remember to get it back from her 2 or 3 years from now:
“We shouldn’t have to turn every scar into a joke. We shouldn’t have to be witty or backtrack or second-guess ourselves when we say, this shit hurt. We shouldn’t have to disclaim- I know, I know, pain is old, other girls hurt– in order to defend ourselves from the old litany of charges: performative, pitiful, self-pitying, pity hoarding, pity mongering. The pain is what you make of it.”
I am certain that Leslie Jamison wasn’t referring to poultry murder when she wrote this, but I am finding truth in it for the situation regardless. My pain doesn’t discredit the suffering of others. It doesn’t mean I’m overreacting about the death of a semi-mentally impaired, partially blind old lady chicken with an underbite (underbeak?). Sometimes we need to be able to say, “I am very, very sad,” (which I sobbed in the rain to my sister after burying my chick-a-bick), and not feel the need to qualify the appropriate level of sadness.

This week was hard.
I miss my pet.
I am very, very sad.
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