Obit for a Chick


We have a baby chick who is dying today. It is a sad thing to watch, this bird that only days ago was a vibrant part of our young flock. It is crippled by botulism we believe. Can't stand, can't lift its head, can't eat, can't see. I have tried to diminish the threat of dehydration by syringing water with apple cider vinegar to the chick's mouth. In its final moments, may its thirst be quenched, even as its life follows suit.

Sometimes it is good to see something die, though my preference would be never a person I love. A little creature's death, though, is a reminder of the fragility of life as well as a reminder of what weakness and complete helplessness look like. Jesus took this on, this dying that I would rather not look into the Lou Malnati's cardboard box in our garage and see. After a night of agony, He was twisted and disfigured-looking, and all of us would want to turn our eyes away. After a night of lying sloppily slumped over in the pine shavings in the very corner of the box, the dying chick keeps drawing in breaths of air.

Just die already, I think to the chick, as I go for the third time today to give it drops of water. I see its purplish-gray feet curled up  uncomfortably beneath it, and I see it try briefly to lift its head. What does it feel like to be nearing the end? To have no way to preserve its own life? Worse, perhaps, to be cut off from the flock? I don't want the chick to die, yet if this is the unavoidable outcome, I want the suffering to be shortened.

R.I.P. Little Americana
Who will never get to live in the outdoor coop
And who will never lay us those pretty blue eggs.

Yet your very short life was not a waste
Because you have blessed me in your dying;
Your suffering and your weakness
Have reminded me of my place
Except for Jesus.