Five short years ago, my dream of becoming a chicken mom came true when I hand-selected 13 precious, fuzzy little chicks. On the drive home, their sweet peeps sang cheerfully from inside their almost freakishly KFC looking box in the passenger seat next to me. As the days went by, our helpful dog, Katie, would assist me in taking care of the babies in the tiny kiddie swimming pool we had set up in our basement, complete with shavings, feed, water and a fence that got higher almost by the day. It was exceedingly important that Katie sniff each chick and press her nose into each one to make sure it peeped in response. Each day I would hold a chick with the purpose of getting them accustomed to human touch. Henry was the sweetest of them all, although at the time we did not know he was a rooster. He spent many an evening curled up on my chest while my heart cooed.
Eventually the chicks got old enough to be moved outdoors into their coop and quickly adapted to a free range lifestyle. That's when we saw Henry become a full-fledged, handsome red rooster. Although Henry was a giant, he was submissive with the other rooster, Birdie Choo Choo which meant he often was on the receiving end of beatings.
As time went by, Henry rebuffed my usual invitation for a cuddle, which eventually led into complete rejection of my advances. I witnessed him growing into the rooster he needed to be, independent and finding his place in the flock. Letting go of me was a part of that process. At the time, it felt like he no longer needed me and I felt like a failure. I mean, who gets rejected by a chicken? The last few years it got so bad that he would chase after me as I would holler at the top of my lungs for back-up from Katie as I ran away in my big old chicken poop boots.
What I came to realize is that his rejection of me wasn't really about me. We used to have a certain kind of love. Henry had to find his way, set his boundaries and live his best life on his terms. So I learned to love Henry from a distance. I came to respect his need for space; knowing that was safest for both of us.
One day I had an epiphany as it became utterly clear that this dynamic had occurred before in my life with humans I had loved. The ending of my relationships, whether a friend or a lover, had always felt like rejection of ME, when in fact, it was about that person needing to follow their path, separate from me. Creating that space and distance between us kept us both safer.
I choose to hold love and gratitude in my heart for those precious people who gave me their time as long as they did. It also prepares me for the next time that someone I love must follow a path away from mine. Because I want them to live their best, happiest life. And me, too.
Today I said goodbye to Henry, as I buried him in the pouring rain, my face wet with tears but with gratitude in my heart. That big red-feathered hunk was something special. And hopefully he's in another realm chasing an angel.