In the beginning, when each of my kids was born, Marc presented me with a tiny golden head inscribed with each new family member’s name. Those medals were a constant physical reminder, as clearly as any military dog tags ever could, of who I was and the role I now played in our growing family. I wore the necklace with pride night and day.
I stopped the heads at #3, however, because along the way, we had lost a baby and like many other young mothers, I didn’t know how to go forward. Did I add the baby girl’s name – Elizabeth to my necklace? Or did I just leave her off and recognize that she had been here but was now gone. I didn’t want to be constantly reminded of a loss, but I also didn’t want to be a traitor to her memory.
It was easier to just stop wearing the necklace altogether.
It’s true what they say about a certain amount of wisdom coming only with age. If you are lucky enough to be able to spend a few years on this earth, you eventually realize that time has a way of smoothing out even the bumpiest of rides. With many years’ worth of experience, I realize now that life was never guaranteed to be something that even remotely resembled fairness. Some babies make it (and for that we are eternally grateful 6 times over) while others simply don’t have the strength to carry on. It’s no one’s fault, it simply is what it is.
This philosophy of “is” carries over to all aspects, some people, dogs, chickens, and even some carefully laid life plans will make it, while others never will. Death and unfairness is as much a part of existence as is birth and joy. Over the years, this has been proven again and again in our family with hospitalizations, injuries, and chronic illnesses that would buckle the knees of any Superman. It’s also been seen in the moments of exquisite beauty and tenderness – a flower by the side of the road, a child whispering a secret in your ear, and a chicken who came to live in a household that desperately needed a jolt of “I-can-do-it-ness.”
Life is about falling down 9 times but getting up 10 – and then having a party with your friends in order to celebrate that tremendous feat of rising, once again, from the dust and ashes.
This past week, I found out about a woman (Lauren of Crowbirdie Beads) who makes custom chicken glass beads. You send her a photo of your chicken, or describe its features and personality and she’ll create a glass bead to wear on a necklace.
I’ve decided to get one of Charlie, our Black Copper Maran who survived despite her mangled feet and especially despite the fact that because I couldn’t let go of her (ack, she might get hurt!), she stayed in our home as a house-chicken for 6 months. Charlie exemplifies that indomitable spirit so necessary in a life of constant ups and downs. My little chicken, who is alive and well – happily living outside with her coop mates, ended up teaching me the most valuable life lesson of “there can be great joy and peace in letting go.”
What better reminder than that to wear around your neck?
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.