The full court press started a month earlier this spring with my daughter, Caroline.
She came home and said, “Mom, it is time to get chicks with 4H (Club)again.”
In that moment, I began listing the many reasons we were not going to do it this year. They are messy and loud. The three weeks you keep them is like dog years, nearly the longest 21 days of your life, including my memory of being pregnant in the summer in Texas.
I was still having flashback from last year. One chick died. We had to have a service and bury that sweet thing.
I admit I was not ready to go through that again. The tears were real from all sides.
The month passed quickly, and I watched all the other mothers fall to the pleadings of their little ones, but not me. I was the hold-out.
When I arrived at the 4H meeting, I was strong. But within a few minutes, I was asking around, trying to find a box to take the loud, messy chicks with me.
Now that is where the lesson could have ended, but the story goes much further.
Caroline at first selected the yellow ones. Then she saw a little brown one. I knew it when I saw him. He did not look as strong as the rest. I knew she would want him. I did not try to convince her otherwise, but I did warn her that maybe he was not completely well.
“I think he looks great. He is so beautiful,” She said. “I will call him Chocolate.”
I knew the die was cast. He was going home with us. That first night was just like I remember it: Loud and messy, but our home was filled with laughter.
I watched Chocolate's legs and saw they were not strong, but he was trying. After the first night, I realized he had no chance in the same place as the other chicks They were running him down, so he got his own room. I think the other chicks, Lighting and Leopard, were jealous.
Chocolate was weak but loud. He talked more than the others combined. We took turns holding him and talking to him.
The other chicks didn’t get the same attention, but that is the way it was. For the first few days, he got stronger, and then, what seemed like overnight, I could tell that he was not going to pull out of it.
That is where life's lessons really start. When what you feared is going to happen, how do you react?
Caroline and I talked about it. She could not understand why it was happening again.
As an adult, I struggle with why bad things happen. When the innocent hurt, what do you do?
I told her God knows all about it. He was so good to us to let you choose Chocolate. He would have never made it this long had we not nursed him. He might have gone unnoticed and unloved without us, but now he will never be forgotten because we loved him.
When she went to bed that night, I went back in to hold him. When I picked him up, I knew he was going, so I took him back to Caroline and let her hold him.
He chirped to her, the first time he had talked all day long. He looked at her, so happily she expressed her love and told him and to sleep well, and then I took him.
I knew as I headed down the hall that he was struggling to breathe. In a moment, he opened his eyes, and then he was gone.
I thank 4H for teaching us to love God's creations. As painful as it is, one of the lessons of growing up is loving and letting go.
Another lesson is that not all of life is easy or fun, but it is always worth it. Life is loud and messy, but I would not trade it for anything.
When I told Caroline the next morning about the chick’s passing, there were tears, but as she prayed, she thanked God for letting us love Chocolate and trusting us enough to let us hold him for a while.
Susan Seaberry Wells is a Tyler resident and frequent YES! contributor. If you would like to contribute to YES!, just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.