When I was around six years old, I remember my parents slowly walking up to me in the morning and giving me a hug. They kneeled down beside me and said in a soft, slow, sad, and apologetic voice: “I’m sorry, honey. The raccoons got Mrs. Frizzel last night.”
I sobbed for hours. I was sad for days. I made my parents have a funeral. My tears fell to the ground as we buried my dead chicken. My parents bought a chick that I raised and loved, but I still missed Mrs. Frizzel.
When I was eight, Fluffy and Ginger passed away. My parents broke the news to me in the same way. I cried the same way as I had before. I got two more chicks.
When I was twelve, my parents again approached me with the same sad tone and told me that that a couple of our chickens died in their sleep. I didn’t cry as much when they died, partially because I was old enough to understand that everything dies of old age at some point. It was much more bearable. I would be sad, but not sobbing like I had done in the past.
Today, I came home and asked if he bought food at the store. He said no. Something happened, so he had to come home. “What I happened?” I asked.
“The neighbors dog got into our yard and into the chicken coop,” he said with a flat tone.
“You stopped right, the chickens are okay?”
“No,” he said. “They are dead, all but three are dead.” He said it with the same flat tone.
He just told me straight up, assuming I wouldn’t be sad. No soft, slow, sad, or apologetic voice. He patted my back and walked away.
I went outside. The corpses were gone. All that remained was feathers.
Eight year old me popped in to my mind. The funeral for Mrs. Frizzel. My parents stroking my back and telling me everything was going to be okay.
There would be no funeral, my dad had put their limp bodies in the trash before I came home. There would be no comfort from my parents. Fifteen year olds don’t cry when their chickens die.
I’m shouldn’t be sad. I’m too old to be sad. But, I’m sad.
I remembered holding the chickens when they were less than a week old. Moving them to the big coop when they were old enough. Hand-feeding them mealworms and celebrating the day that they laid their first egg.
I raised them. They are dead now.
If I was a child I would be sobbing in my parents arms. Now, I’m sobbing alone.
I know if I went to them they would comfort me, but there’s an age where you need to accept reality on your own.
Being treated like a child is now nonexistent. Just like my chickens.
When I was little, if I had a lot of homework, my parents would tell me I could do it and tell me I could have a cookie when I finished. Now, when I complain about my homework, they say lots of homework is part of growing up.
When I was little, my parents were by me at every moment to guide me through life. Now, I am old enough where I need to handle things on my own.
When I was younger, my parents could fix everything. They could make everything feel better. In their arms, I was safe.
Yes, the death of my chickens is part of the reason I’m crying. But, there’s more to the tears running down my cheek.
No matter how much I want to believe it, my parents can’t fix everything. As much as I want it to, they can’t hug me and make me not be sad. As desperately as I want to deny it, my parents can’t protect me anymore.
I don’t know why all of this came from a dog breaking into my chicken coop, but it did…
Rest in peace Lucky, Trouble, Darwin, Lemon, Pepper, Oreo, and Henry. I may not be a child anymore, but I still love you and miss you.