Fluffy and Brownie

Cancer-free days include ordinary, fun simple moments of joy

Early in the summer, our days were lazy and long. Before my dad had his stroke, my mom had her surgery, and Ronnie hurt his hand we were basking in the warmth of sunshine and carefree, almost cancer-free, times. On a particularly early, bright Saturday morning Chloe woke up KNOWING it was the day she would get her long-awaited chicks to raise.

She has pleaded each year with us to let her get two little chicks. We resisted, but this time Ronnie was confident that she could care for them. We had a big dog crate with very small holes and set it up on the back patio in preparation for our new arrivals. We set off to Tractor Supply to pick out chicks. There were none to be found. As I secretly let out a sigh of relief, Ronnie consoled Chloe with the idea of getting her new babies from First Monday. I stalled and then reluctantly joined in the hunt for chicks. We finally found a gentleman who had many to choose from. The tiny yellow ball of fur was chosen first and quickly named Fluffy. Chloe also wanted a brown one. With numerous shades of brown this little chick was harder to narrow down. I listened intently to the reason she chose the dark brown one with two lighter shades of stripes down his back. She immediately named her Brownie and we were on our way!

We readied two little boxes of straw in the crate, played for a few minutes, then took a dip in the pool while Ronnie headed back to Tractor Supply for chick feed and a water bottle. Chloe hopped out of the pool to check on her chicks which began a massive search for Brownie, who masterfully slipped through the tiny holes in the crate. I quickly texted Ronnie and told him I thought that perhaps Brownie was forever lost and he should get a replacement BROWN chick. I assumed he had listened as intently as I had about the reason this particular Brownie had been chosen. Unfortunately, he had not.

Chloe ran down the drive when Ronnie pulled in to have him help in her search. He feigns a search and minutes later comes back with a little brown chick, proclaiming to Chloe he had just found her Brownie! Chloe gives him an ear to ear grin that slowly fades as she cuddles the chick; silently examining it, and I watch as the realization covers her face. Without a word, she hugs Ronnie tight and we move the chicks to a smaller cage. I waited for her to say something. Not another word was said about Brownie and her disappearing act.

I watch as Chloe takes a story book out and pretends to read to them for a while. I listen as she animatedly talks to them and tells them she can't wait for them to grow up and lay eggs of their own. I see her feeding them through the tiny mesh holes and smile as I realize how long and how much she had wanted these two little birds.

Then, after dinner, Chloe and I check on the new babies one last time before bed. She suddenly blurts out that we need to talk in "private" and then proceeds to tell me that her daddy must have found someone else's chicken. She doesn't know how or whose but she says this one isn't the same Brownie she brought home. Then she said, "Daddy thinks he saved Brownie. I don't want to hurt his feelings, so can we keep this a secret?" Inside we go. She hops into Ronnie's lap and says Daddy, "you are my hero," and behind his back flashes me a big thumbs up! A hero is born!

Suzanne Lindley has been living with metastatic colorectal cancer since 1998. She is the founder of YES! Beat Liver Tumors, an organization for individuals living with metastatic liver tumors, and an advocate for Fight Colorectal Cancer.