We lost a chicken. She was a silly bird. Flighty. We’re not sure if it’s the result of something she ate or fowl play. The other hens wouldn’t squawk about what happened in the coop that dark night.
What we do know is my ex found her dead as a doornail and half buried under a pile of wood chips.
After burying her, I assumed he’d tell the kids. After all, he was there. They were there. It seemed natural to say, “Oh no! Henrietta died!”
Two days later, the kids were outside with me, helping clean up the garden and watching the chickens peck away at offending bugs.
Elizabeth looked at me, “Where is the other one?”
“What other one? They’re both right there.”
She stared hard at the birds and looked back at me. “The other one.”
Joseph wandered over. “She means Henrietta.”
“Didn’t you dad tell you?”
“Tell us what?”
“Henrietta died. He buried her over there.” I pointed towards a small pile of rocks.
“Oh.” Joseph studied the rocks for a moment. “That’s weird.”
“Usually we eat chicken.”
The rake dropped out of my hand and I stared after him as he and his sister ran away playing.
All this time, I didn’t realize he made the connection between the chicken we eat and the chickens who lay eggs and run away when he wanders too close. Who knew he already understands – to a certain extent – the circle of life?