As Micah fast approaches 21 months, the age at which his brother died, things are a little difficult for all of us. Part of it is fear. Part of it is the constant reminder of Tiggy in everything he does.
It isn’t easy.
Whenever we go outside, Micah moos to me. It is a very good moo. It starts down as low as his little toddler voice can go and comes out a long, “Mmmmmmm!” with gathering strength. Just like the cattle he is asking me to take him to see. And I almost always take him.
If I don’t, I feel sick with guilt and fear and regret. And I end up going back outside to take him to the cattle. Because I think of all the times Tiggy wanted to go with me to feed the chickie chickies. I did take him a lot. I even took him when it was inconvenient and packing him into that snow suit took longer than the chores I was going out to do. But sometimes, I just wanted to get them done and left him with his sister or his daddy. Because then I just wanted to get them done.
Now, I just want him there beside me, slowing me down, holding my hand.
Sometimes it seems like we’re slowly getting things back together. We have our own early warning system for anything that moves onto our property and they are also on continual insect patrol.
We rarely find ticks on anyone or even on the dogs anymore.
My favorite lawnmowers are growing well. And due to a combination of their services and a lack of rain, we haven’t had to mow since the first of May.
My Welsh Harlequin went broody and hatched out a clutch of chicken eggs. We didn’t really need any more mixed breed chickens, but next year she will hopefully have duck eggs to hatch.
I was looking forward to watching Welshie’s little chicks grow up alongside her and sharing the pictures of the progress. But then one chick went missing. We found another one’s body near the water dish. And I realized they were being killed by the geese.
So I took the survivors from their mother and put them in a pen while mama paced outside, calling to her babies.
And my other ducklings are getting so big. From a distance, I sometimes confuse the largest of them with Welshie. So far, they are showing good conformation. I’m hoping to show them and to breed them.
But then my daughter let Jake out and he ate one of my drakes. And I’m back to feeling like I have to make a choice. An impossible choice between the poultry which is a part of the vision we have for this place and this dog who lays his head in my lap when I sit on the porch and look across to the cemetary where my son is buried.
And it seems like I shouldn’t get so upset over a chick or a duck or even weeds in the onions. After all, I lost a child. What could possibly compare to that? But all losses are connected and I cannot lose a chick without the pain of losing Tiggy surfacing again.
And as I listened to the things I cried out into my pillow, I realized that part of me thinks that losing Tiggy was more than enough. Now somehow all the other problems of life are just supposed to put themselves on hold while we take a nice, long, deep breath and learn to walk again.
And part of me feels like failure is inevitable.
So I look at my new little Ameraucana chicks. I’ve been waiting for six months to get these little guys. I want to see them the way I used to see new additions to our little homestead, before death and failure and grief were such an intimate part of it. I want to see our breeding plan and next year’s chicks. I want to see the beginnings of an egg business and our first customers for hatching eggs or day old chicks.
But my vison of the future is somewhat clouded. So for now I focus on Micah’s excited squeals and his bright eyes and his little finger pointing at the chicks through the bars of the brooder while he exclaims, “Keekee! Keekee!”
Because right now is really all the time we have.