Sweet Little Beatrix
Beatrix and Tulip
The spring, my mom brought me 2 beautiful Silkie chicks, one black and one white, from a swap in Kentucky. Both got sick. The little white sister died a terrible death (seemed like a lung infection), but the black one was devotedly loving and kept her up and eating right until the end. However, she developed a cough for a long time that was hard to clear up.
We named her Beatrix. She was afraid and alone so we went out the next day and got a D'Uccle chick from the feed store. We named her Tulip. Beatrix took care of Tulip like a mother. Even after they grew up, Tulip still continued to sleep and hide under her as much as possible. They had the cutest bond and it was inconceivable to imagine them apart. They lived in a little coop together by my rose garden. I loved watching them lay in the grass and bask in the sun while I gardened.
One of my best friends was going through the end stages of addiction and committed suicide during this time. I did my best to help him and still feel racked with guilt that I could have done more. I had a hard time getting up in the morning. But I always did, knowing Beatrix and Tulip needed my help to grow up. They would run to me for cuddles and make happy little noises. I couldn't save my friend, but I had saved Beatrix. It was a true comfort to me during these difficult days.
I was actually so depressed and exhausted during this time that I was seriously considering giving up on chickens and homesteading forever. I have done this my whole life, so you can imagine how stressed I was to even consider this. But Beatrix and Tulip loved me and needed me so much that I had no choice but to change my mind. I even ended up getting more chicks!!
On my birthday last week, I went to do my normal morning routine of picking her up to admire her unusual and ever changing feathers. She had new purples and greens on her wing. I held her up to my husband and we remarked on how absolutely beautiful she was becoming. She was really the most beautiful chicken I've ever seen, partridge silky feathers with bright blue earlobes.
Before I set her down I heard a low gurgling noise. She had been acting tired for a couple weeks, and had trouble putting on weight from the start. I had put her on several medications trying to get her back to her old self but had a premonition early on that this might be it. I picked her back up to listen to her breathing and I felt her chest. She immediately aspirated, struggled, and died. Right there in my arms, on my birthday morning. I tried to revive her to no avail. I suspect she had been hiding a lung infection for most of her short (6 month) life.
Shocked doesn't even begin to cover it. We buried her soon after. I put roses over her body and could hardly look as my husband buried her next to her sister. I have had chickens for most of my life and am no stranger to losing them. But this was different.
She was really more than a pet to me and had helped me through such a hard time. And not only me –she helped her sister during her short life, and was a constant companion to Tulip as well. She will live on through Tulip's incredible personality, which was a direct result of Beatrix's influence :)
I am having a hard time even imagining how I will move forward with chicken keeping after this. But then I remember that's how I was feeling when her sister passed. And how I felt the last time something happened. And that, if I'd acted on that feeling, I never would have experienced the joy of knowing Beatrix and Tulip.
Since she was sick from the beginning, I was always worried Beatrix wasn't long for this world. But her death has also made me realize that you can't make your decisions based on fear of eventually being hurt.
My friend's mother said at his (her son's) funeral:
"if you had told me this – that I would see my own child die before he was even born – I still would have chosen the joy of being his mother."
Her words really resonated with me in coping with death in general.
The good things in life, like love, do not come pain-free. To have a pet is to know you will probably watch them die, and to know you might make mistakes you will never forgive yourself for. And it is still worth the joy they bring. In fact, the fact that the joy is fleeting might make it even more special.
Knowing Beatrix had been sick early on, I adjusted my strategy when raising her. I gave her supervised time outside every day and hand-fed her treats every morning. I cuddled her a lot. I wanted every day to be as special as it could be so that her life would be good even if it was short. I now make sure to extend that attitude to all my other chickens more than ever.
I am grateful to Beatrix for being in my life, however briefly, to help me at the time I (and the other chickens!) needed her unique love. I think she was too special to stay here long, if that makes sense. I hope she has found her sister over the Rainbow Bridge and that they are happy together again and forever young and healthy.
Many thanks for reading Beatrix's story and keeping her memory alive, and for giving me a chance to share her life with all of you.