I didn’t want to write this post. But then again, I didn’t want to write any post, especially a funny one. All I want to do is grieve for the loss of my very good friend. My chicken, Lacy.
On Friday Lacy was killed in our yard by some animal. I don’t know what it was — a fox or a bobcat. All I could find was a trail of her feathers leading into the woods. I didn’t hear it happen. We were all out in the yard. All the dogs were out too. Plus all the chickens were out too — all 28 of them. Why couldn’t it have been another chicken? Why couldn’t it have been our rooster? Our rooster is an asshole and would make a perfectly lovely meal for a wild animal. Why did it have to be Lacy?
I lived with a constant fear that something like this was going to happen. I knew by letting Lacy out of the coop every day there was a risk something could happen to her.
But Lacy didn’t want to be in the coop. She wanted to be with us.
And we wanted to be with her.
So I took the risk and now she’s gone.
When a person dies everyone gives you sympathy. People tiptoe quietly around and give you space and sometimes meals. There are grief counselors. There are therapists. There are support groups.
When your dog dies, other animal lovers give you sympathy, but really, it’s not like you can take weeks off of work to grieve. People think, It’s a dog, right? Get over it. Get another dog.
When your cat dies you don’t get any sympathy at all. Maybe just an “Oh, that’s too bad. So where do you want to go to lunch?”
And when your chicken dies… well, that’s a category that defies definition. Hallmark doesn’t make a sympathy card for this one. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, “Give her time. Her chicken just died.”
But that doesn’t make the pain go away. Just because our culture has a very narrow definition of what you are allowed to grieve for doesn’t make me feel any less sad. I’ve always bonded with animals more easily than with humans. I’ve always trusted animals more than humans. An animal has never ever let me down. (I only wish I could say the same for those pesky humans.)
So when I say that Lacy was my friend, I know it sounds completely crazy. She was a chicken. But she was also my friend. Earlier on Friday Sheryl Sandberg had written about the death of her husband and as I sobbed into my pillow that night all I could think was, “Sheryl Sandberg’s husband just died and I’m crying over a chicken. This is ridiculous.”
I thought of my kids who took Lacy’s death pretty well. (What’s with the stoic farm children?) I imagined them telling a story in years to come, most likely to their therapist. I only remember my mom crying once — and it was over a chicken! The woman was crazy!
But still, I could not harness my grief.
Here is the last picture Lacy and I took together.
The kids and I had just come back from a long day of grocery, errands, park, etc and I was totally exhausted. I sat down on the couch for a moment to gather myself. Lacy was sitting on a chair watching me, her head cocked to the side, thinking. Then suddenly she took flight and landed right on my lap — something she had never done before. I was so touched. We looked at each other for a moment, I stroked her downy feathers, then Lacy settled on my lap, closed her beady little chicken eyes and fell asleep.
It was wonderful.
(Please give me time. My chicken just died.)