Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pardon me, ma'am, is this your first egg?

When I lived in Costa Rica fifteen years ago, I rented a room from a sweet little family in the country. Instead of a ceiling, we lay in bed at night and peered up into rafters. Instead of glass windows, we had wooden shutters. And instead of a cat, we had chickens. As the house had no actual doors, the chickens waltzed freely through the bars of the security gates and into the main room that doubled as both kitchen and living space, their claws clicking on the tile. They pecked rice from the floor and occasionally messed on it, but no one seemed to mind. Soon I got used to having them murmur and hum at my feet as I sat at the table eating fried plantains and sweating. Strange as it was, this had become the new normal.
Then one night I came home to the calls of a very distressed bird. Concerned, I asked the dona of the house, Flor, if a chicken was sick or hurt. She smiled and explained that one of the young hens was trying to lay her first egg. Since the hen had never laid before, she was confused and in distress. Her once low blllrrraaa-blllrrraaa had become the sound of feathered fear. "Bok-bok-bok BE-GOKKKKK!" she bellowed. "What-the-heck-is-going-ON?!" She seemed to demand. Every few minutes she repeated her squealing cluck. Dona Flor explained that the little hen didn't know what was happening to her, and was declaring that fact to the world. She said that after this first, most difficult egg, the hen would never again make those pained calls. Next time, and every time hereafter, she would lay still and grumble a low complaint that said, "Oh, yes, I remember this pain, but I know it won't kill me."

I have thought about that little hen many times over the years. How many times have I encountered a new challenge or trial, and boystrously announced my grief to the world? How often have I cried out, thrashed and complained over a new, unfamiliar fear or pain? My first feverish child, my first miscarriage, the first time dad was hospitalized. Then I think about the other hens, the ones who have been-there, done-that-egg without complaint. I realize that I too have had pains that have come back to me once, twice, three times or more, and each time I endured them with a little more grace, patience, and perhaps, a little less racket. And in those moments when I am screaming out my loudest BOK! I look around to see another woman nearby who knows my pain and answers with a low and steady murmur.

Oh, yes, I remember this pain, but I know it won't kill me. I will learn. It may take another dozen eggs, but eventually I'll learn.

1 comment:

rebekahmott said...

LOVE LOVE this story. You are a great writer! This story really makes sence to me and just by reading this it will help me remember that what won't kill me will only make me stronger. Thank you I Love this story!!