This tendency of mine generally works in my favor. People know exactly where they stand with me and I find an opportunity to clear out my tear ducts every few days. On occasion, though, it backfires. When I am hurt, or disappointed, I feel it profoundly. Wearing one's heart on one's sleeve leaves one exposed to all manner of potential wounding.
And so it was this past Saturday evening that the loss of a faithful companion hit me hard. My beloved hen Uno met an untimely demise. I'll spare you the gruesome details, but suffice to say, her death must have come swiftly as, quite literally, she lost her head. I was the first to find her, in the dark, as Glenn and I returned from a family outing around 7 p.m. to lock up the henhouse. She was on the snow, inside the chicken run, directly in front of the entrance gate. I felt like I'd been hit with a snow shovel in the gut.
Honestly, I had no idea I would react so intensely to the death of one of my chickens. I'd braced myself since day one for the potential for death. These creatures live outside, straddling a wild/domesticated fence, and are at all times at risk from potential illnesses, cold, and predators. No amount of mental preparation readies you for a death, though. Especially when my flock is so small. Especially because I then began experiencing an enormous amount of guilt, that if I'd gotten home right at sundown (as is my usual course with my chickens), that I could have prevented her death. The truth, though, is that any of my flock of 5 could pass on at any time. Chickens, just like humans, are fragile, just like all beings, really. Everything is temporary, anyways, right? We're all just passing through.
Uno was a true gem. She was wildly affectionate, letting me pet and pick her up, even soliciting "hugs", if you can let yourself imagine that. She was a good layer and a fun friend and she will be missed. She provided love and laughter and nourishment and just the right amount of time together. Her passing reminds me of just how tenuous of a contract with life we all have. Forgiving grievances, keeping no record of wrongs, saying you're sorry, and telling those you love just how much you do, and telling them often, is Uno's enduring legacy to me. Rest in peace, sweet friend.