Monday, May 19, 2014

Throwback to Trauma

It doesn’t take much to feel re-traumatized, thrown back without warning to the start of this terrible journey of suicide loss.

We got a new set of baby chicks and were raising them in a box, all downy cuteness and chirping. The yellow one seemed frail and listless and died within a few days. We got a replacement, a fine brown Welsummer, who was perky and curious. I went to check on them one morning last week and found her dead, lying on her side, eyes bulging. I burst into sobs, flashing on finding Noah dead, and had to go back to bed. Another vulnerable creature in my care, in my home, suddenly gone. Me finding it, my husband away from home and not reachable. Those same frozen, astonished eyes, as if to say: this is what happens? this is what it’s like?  An echo of the same shock in my crushed heart, the same guilt for not checking sooner (so I could have adjusted the heat lamp), the same not knowing. 

With any sudden death, I’m convinced it’s the shock we struggle with, even more than the grief, those first few months. And here it was again, in miniature: the same agitation, digestive upheaval, hyper-vigilance. The same triggering, seeing everything through the lens of loss and vulnerability.

Trying to “process” this at an EMDR therapy session, I thought back to Noah’s hospitalization when only five days old for a mysterious infection--how tiny and frail he was, howling at all the painful tests and intrusions, and me in tears in the next room, helpless to protect my newborn. There I go down another rabbit hole . . .

No more replacement chicks, I told my husband. No more delicate, dead creatures in my home. I can’t face the risk. I can’t look at it philosophically right now as part of the circle of life.

Of course, our hens have been a great comfort in the past year as they cluck and peck their way around the yard and come running for snacks on teetering dinosaur feet. I know the two new chicks will be delightful once we stop worrying about their survival. And I know they will need companions, at least one extra as insurance. So we will bring home another of about their age when they are older and sturdier. When we, too, are sturdier, we will resume tending the circle of life.

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