The Chicken In The Freezer

Happier times. Sunday, May 27, 2009 Andrew's is the second head on the left

My life seems to have a line drawn across it: before and after.
I mean, it’s happened before, like before and after the cat, before and after having my first child. But gradually, like lines drawn in the sand, they have gently been erased by the “elements” of life.
I experienced a severe before and after in my life, when one of my twins, seven and a half month old Alexander, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. His death too ripped me to the core. For years I sweated blood and tears, raising money and awareness for SIDS. But how can I say this without being misinterpreted; our time together, etched in my heart though it is, was short. It didn’t give us the chance to do very much together and that too, brings its own kind of pain. Still, over the years I have found peace and acceptance about Alexander’s death. As Robert grew, he and Andrew became close friends. While I always detected a trace of sadness deep in Robert’s heart, the mutual love, and the relationship between him and his older brother, went a long way toward filling the void left by the loss of his twin. Witnessing this gave me comfort and eased the sadness I felt for Robert’s loss.
God alone knows now that he’s lost his older brother, what goes on in Robert’s head and heart, for he won’t talk about it. And yes, I have asked the experts, and they have told me not to push him, but to give him love (which of course we do) and as long as he functions, ie: eats, sleeps, goes to school, does his homework, plays with friends…
“Just keep an eye out,” my own therapist advised. “Make sure he knows that he can come to you, and ask him to tell you if he ever feels like hurting himself.”
Robert and I have had this conversation and I feel comfortable that he will tell us if and when he needs help.
Mind you, his sister has talked to him, Hugh has talked to him, male friends of his sister who have sort of taken up the role of older brothers have also talked to him. If anything, I’d say that if in need, he is spoiled for choice.

The above stream of consciousness started when and because… I took a chicken out of the freezer yesterday.
It is so weird, the things that stick in our mind. It would he hilarious if it wasn’t tragic, perhaps the word is: tragicomic.
I had bought this chicken from Whole Foods in October, (even though I was vegetarian at the time).
I remember it well; there was a special offer on free range organic chickens and I thought:
“Chicken, chicken on the shelf, tell me, who is…”
Anyway, I bought it and put it in the freezer thinking that I would cook it whenever Andrew came home one evening, or one week-end.
A few days later Andrew died; I was sitting on the hospital floor (I don’t know why I was sitting on the floor) by his side, when I suddenly remembered the chicken and started howling:
“What about the roast chicken I was going to cook for you? And the gravy, roast potatoes and vegetables to go with it?”
That is what I was remembering from the moment the chicken came out of the freezer, went into the oven and….. Amazing what the mind spews up.

PS There is a beautiful, young looking, red-orangey bird perched on a branch outside. I try to catch his attention.
“Have you seen Andrew?” I ask when he finally looks in my direction. He moves his head rapidly this way and that, then pecks at a dry berry.
“Tell him I love him,” I call out as the red-orangey bird spreads his wings, and flies away.


14 thoughts on “The Chicken In The Freezer

  1. Your chicken story reminds me … Like any 17 year old boy, esp. one who does a lot of sports, Teddy wanted to be sure we had lots of his preferred snacks in the house. One thing I have been unable to do so far – even though we really need the room in the kitchen cabinets – is to get rid of the multiple boxes of fat-free fig newtons and Sun-Maid raisins I had just bought, literally the morning of the day Teddy died. If they were fresher, I could give them away. Now I have to throw them away, and just haven’t been able to do so. Sometimes we can handle the big things a lot better than the little ones that only mean something to us. Be well. carla xox

  2. When Grief was new to me and I didn’t understand what was happening to me and why I just couldn’t get out of bed, I did what I usually do once I recognize a problem– I searched for information and then started reading until I understood the problem enough to deal with it. Once I gained a working knowledge of grief sufficient to help myself cope, then being a wife and mom, I became concerned about my family and how they were coping. Especially, were they letting themselves grieve or were they avoiding the “grief work” that must occur (I learned from reading) to come to the healing place. I became protective; I couldn’t let my son’s death destroy anyone else in my family.

    In my reading, I came across Tom Golden’s website about men and grief: The page I found back then was the page of articles written by Tom: I didn’t realize at the time that there was much more to the website. While searching for it again tonight, I found another page I will be bookmarking that also deals with men and grief: (This website also deals with other men’s issues.) When I first started searching and reading about grief, I hadn’t realized how gender and culture affects the way individuals grieve. Your post today reminded me of a period of time after my son’s death when I became obsessed with trying to figure out what was going on with me. I had never experienced grief so intensely. Once I addressed my needs sufficiently, my attention turned intuitively to making sure my family was okay, particularly the men in my family.

    Finally, one last sharing…tonight I came across a poem about grief I’d like to share with you.

    “Those who will not slip beneath
    the still surface of the well of grief

    turning downward through its black water
    to the place we cannot breathe

    will never know the source from which we drink,
    the secret water, cold and clear,

    nor find in the darkness glimmering
    the small round coins
    thrown away by those who wished for something else.”

    -David Whyte, from Close to Home

    A brief description of the poet from the same Men Web site: “David Whyte grew up among the hills and valleys of Yorkshire, England; moved to the higher ground in the mountains of Wales, traveled the world, and now lives at sea-level on Whidby Island Washington with his wife Autumn and his son Brendan.”

    PS…I wonder what kind of bird you saw.

    Years ago Red Northern Cardinals, a songbird, were brought to the Hawaiian Islands. I never paid attention to them much until my son died and I had a reason to notice them. I think “I” was supposed to notice them and I learned a few things when I did. Just one thing I learned was there is more to life than what we see with our physical eyes and hear with our physical ears. It surrounds us and is always there but we don’t even notice it unless we chose to try to spiritually see and hear it.
    Aloha, Esmeralda…

    • Thank you, you always have so much useful information. The bird was not a red cardinal. And yes, I am always looking, listening within and without.
      Andrew and I used to have discussions about spirituality. He, a declared atheist, though a gentle and advanced soul in my opinion. I fully Eastern in my spiritual sensibilities.
      Anyway, now I feel as though he is saying to me something like:
      “Excuse me, aren’t you the one always going on about life after death, reincarnation, that we are Divine, that we never die. Well then, don’t you know that I am alive and well?”
      “Yes, I know, but my mind doesn’t.”

      • Your welcome for the info. Your blog is a gift to me; I feel the need to give back in return.

        I am still wondering what kind of bird you saw. May be nothing; may be something. A friend of mine & I were walking along the beach and decided to sit and talk. Her mum had died by suicide. We talked through our grief during our walks. While sitting talking and looking out into the ocean she noticed something that I could not see in the ocean. Eventually that something came into view–2 monk seals one following the other. Neither of us have ever seen monk seals. We’ve lived here a long time. I’ve been walking this beach for 3 years. The next day she recieved
        a phone call that her father had died. He was a sailor. Just a coincidence, right?

        My son and I had such conversations. I hope he has found his answers.

      • You know, my husbands thinks that any bird flying around here is Tigger. Before moving to the States, I’d never seen such lovely birds as I see here.

      • Maybe he is right. 🙂 If the birds bring him comfort, perhaps it is the way your Tigger is able to reach Hugh.

        I had so many bird related experiences the inconsolable “first year”. I didn’t think the bird(s) were my son. But at times I thought someone is making sure I see this and notice this. Who’s controlling this? Why?

      • Before I have spirit friends show up I notice monarch butterflies, dragonflies, and hummingbirds.
        I have learned to pay attention to all animals that come into my presence as I know there is a message.

        One item that the mind cannot comprehend is spiritual
        experience. As the mind is of an earthly nature.
        The heart is connected to spirit. Feeling or knowing.
        My spirituality could be described as heavenly.
        As my experiences of crossing over did not match my religous experience. Though I lean to the wisdom of all masters east and west.

  3. I was thinking of you, esmeralda, and just wishing you solace and a continued meaningfulness in your life. I just checked back to your blog, and, if I am nt mistaken, has now been moved from being hosted on wordpress, to being hosted somewhere else…. please excuse that I am looking at such details, but I am in the web tech field, so I am interested in how technology is being adopted. Anyway, I felt heart-connected reading your chicken story, preceded by the painful regaling of how you are discussing suh painful subjects with Robert. We, too, have a frozen chicken sitting in the kitchen this morning. Funny that. Life goes in cycles, everyone around us in similar cycles, yet with the wallls we erect, we often feel isolated. Sometimes, for diversion, I read National Geographic magazine and see/learn how totally different societies try to support each other. May you continue to grow in strength and faith, and may you no never again experience such depth of sorrow.

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