08 December, 2014

Editorial: Life, Death and Chickens

  Death is part of life.  As profoundly painful as the circumstances sometimes are, death is part of life on earth.     

    I really appreciated Don Christie’s article in the Crookston Times last month on grief - dealing with loss. I have come to know death and grief intimately this year.   

    Death is real, and it is something we will all experience.    

    Elizabeth was a healthy growing, and vibrant little spirit.  Nearly 2 years old, she was bright eyed, yet had a peace about her that was soothing.      

    A few months before she died she came down with a common cold.  Ruby Catherine, my 4 year old asked me…”Is Lizzy going to die?”   

    We had had a chicken die months before.  We had a little family funeral and buried her in the flower bed in the back yard.  This was Ruby Catherine’s only experience with death.  I didn’t think much about my answer, I simply rattled off - “Oh no honey, Lizzy is not going to die - people aren’t like chickens.”    

    How wrong I was.   

    The week before Elizabeth died we hatched 19 beautiful fluffy baby chicks.  The kids loved watching them hatch, holding them, hearing them peep. Every little sign of life was magical, these eggs had transformed into living birds


    There were, however, 6 or so eggs that simply did not hatch. After giving them a couple extra days in the incubator it was apparent that they were not going to make it.  So, I put on my latex gloves and we had a science lesson. The kids gathered around and I opened each egg.  We noted the growth and development stage in which each bird stopped developing.  We examined their wings, feet and beaks.   

    And then we did something really special.  We talked about heaven.  We talked about what the little chicks might be doing in heaven. We discussed what we think heaven is like.  I saw my 4 year old and 8 year old wrap their head around life and death.  I saw them begin to understand spirit.  It was a beautiful moment.   

    Little did I know that in one week my baby girl would also be in heaven.  It was so unexpected.  Friday evening she was dancing to the music of her daddy’s banjo.  Saturday morning I went to wake her up and she was gone.  Just like the baby chicks.  No life in her tiny body.   

Her spirit lives on. This I know.  She continues to bring peace to me when I need it most.   
    That dreadful Saturday back in May - police and investigators were all over the house, my kids were frightened and confused.  My husband and I in shock, not really knowing what to do.  Ruby Catherine came up to me and wrapped her arms around my leg, looked up into my eyes and said. “Mom, it’s okay, Lizzy is in heaven with the baby chicks.”   

    I fell to my knees in tears.  Wrapped my arms around Ruby Catherine.  She was profoundly correct.  We find peace in our belief that Lizzy is in a state of peace.  She is often near us, and brings us the gifts we need.  Peace, Love, forgiveness, kindness.  And even as we celebrate her gifts, we grieve.  What an immense loss.   

    I thank God for the tender mercy of the life and death lesson with our baby chicks that helped my sweet little children to better comprehend the difficult experience that lay ahead.      I didn't share the experience with anyone for months after Lizzy died.  Unknowingly a sweet friend from church Rachel, who lost her baby son a few years ago made a donation to Heifer International for baby chicks in Lizzy's name. Lizzy lives on in many ways.
    As painful as it is, death is part of life.  We will all expire.   I believe families are forever  and I am so grateful for the Good News, we will be together again. 
This is the last picture taken of Lizzy.  We were getting ready for church.
Elias had put his vest over the top of his suit coat.  I was trying not to laugh, but I wanted to capture the moment.  

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