I awoke to rain streaming down my window and Gabriel sobbing at my bedside, “Mom, I think the chicks are dead” he choked, “I thought they were sleeping, but they won’t wake up.”

Pulling him into my arms, we cried and with a prayer on my forehead we walked to the tub together. I’d hoped he was wrong, but they were gone. Silent and still.

Back to bed, we hid under my comforter, crying and talking for the next hour. Erik dutifully supplied us with Kleenex and reassuring words.

“Maybe,” Gabe sobbed, “maybe, we only have to wait three days and they’ll be resurrected.” I explained a bit and we decided together that baby chicks, beloved kittens and puppy dogs will all be resurrected when Christ comes again.

Mary, Xander, Hans and Stefan joined us in our tears, but nobody mourned the chicks quite like Gabriel. He had spent the most time with them, admired each feather and cheered them on at each hop and flutter.

Nestling them in a tiny box, we stepped outside for a solemn chickie funeral. Rain fell as we buried them amidst the strawberries, marking the spot with a flat red rock.


Yes, if we were farmers I would need to harden my children a bit to headless chickens and slaughtered cows. But we are not, our chickens are pets. And in this world where video games aim to “kill, kill, kill” and action movies stack up the body count, I am grateful for their sensitivity and sweetness. I have no desire to “toughen up” my boys; real men DO cry.

Yes, a tender heart can make life difficult (I know this all too well), but true empathy, the ability to feel and tend to others’ pain, has made my life infinitely richer.

Our day progressed quietly and with a renewed sense of life’s fragility. Gabe and Mary crawled into the same bed as night fell, whispering about baby chicks and angels. I tiptoed into Xander and Hans’ room and found my sweet Xander with tears on his pillow, “Why did they have to die? We did everything we could for them. Why did they have to die?”

The loss of a chick is simple and small, easily forgotten, but I know this will prepare them for larger tragedies, they will be a bit more able to mourn with those who mourn. And this time at least, it was better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

April 17, 2011
April 20, 2011



  1. Jeanelle

    April 19, 2011

    Oh Michelle, I am so, so sorry. Please hug your sweet children for me. Losing a pet is a terrible pain…I hope your cute kids are smiling again soon. xoxo

  2. jennie w.

    April 19, 2011

    We had two chicks and a rabbit die one day while we were at church. I can barely think back on that day and without getting incredibly overwhelmed. I hate pets dying. Even goldfish.

  3. Lisa

    April 19, 2011

    Sweet boys…we need more of them don’t we? I am so sorry about the little Bantams, a sad day indeed. Tell Gabe, if I were a chick…I know there wouldn’t be a better place to live than at your house.

  4. Selwyn

    April 19, 2011



  5. Kerri

    April 19, 2011

    Oh, death is cruel. I’m so sorry, Michelle.

  6. jen

    April 19, 2011

    *echoes selwyn*



  7. Cath

    April 19, 2011

    Oh Michelle, too tender for words. Love the light in Gabe’s eyes. I’m sorry.

  8. Judi

    April 19, 2011

    sweet boys, and a wonderful mother. our cat wandered off about 3+ weeks ago now…and yes, med do brian cried for several days…and robert is all his missionary wisdom made the comment, “heaven is a nice place and if she doesn’t come home I’m sure she will be happy there”…and your chicks will be happy there too…

  9. Mother of the Wild Boys

    April 19, 2011

    I am a new reader of your blog, and I just had to take a moment to thank you. Thank you for your lovely writing, your amazing photography, and your inspiring spirit. So sorry to hear of your sad loss.

  10. Today's Gift

    April 19, 2011

    Michelle, I’m sorry to hear of your loss. It’s so very hard when a pet dies- the pain is almost unbearable.

  11. Tracy

    April 19, 2011

    Oh hon. Your words are so poetic and beautiful surrounding this sad reality.

    Give Gabe a hug from me. I love you all so.

  12. Tifani

    April 21, 2011

    Your poor, sweet, Gabe. I’m crying for and with him. I’m so sorry.

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