Friday, October 21, 2011

A Sad Post... On Loss & Sorrow

Sweet Primrose
A Heavenly Flyer.
I’ve written and rewritten this post in my mind over and over. It must be cathartic to do so. This was written Tuesday, Oct. 18, although not posted immediately. I considered it first, but decided to share it as we all face disappointments in life.

 If I could wipe yesterday from my life, I would. Don’t we all have days we wish had never happened? It began with a phone call while I was still in the shower. My husband answered only to hear that a relative in another time zone had died. We grieved for that family, though we didn’t know her. She was only 32.

We’d also learned a day ago that our son-in-law lost his job after 15 years with the company. Perhaps it is another sign of our times.

Later, we opened the mail to find a bill we'd disputed had been turned over to a collection agency. We’ve already wasted so much time trying to rectify this and now have to start all over again. It’s not a large bill, but it's one we don’t owe. The time and trouble over it have exceeded its worth.

Friend of Primrose.
He misses her.

So, when the accident happened yesterday, perhaps my mind wasn’t where it should have been. But that’s an excuse…a  justification.

In previous posts I’ve talked about potential hazards to birds and many things to avoid. I believed I was the epitome of safety and care for my birds. I’ve lost more than a few feathered friends, sure. But, the losses weren’t unusual and I was able to deal with them as timely, unpredictable or unavoidable. Each occurrence was sad, but nature can sometimes be brutal.

This one was different. I spent most of yesterday weeping and had difficulty sleeping last night.

I hesitate to admit to this error. I’m ashamed, hurt, guilty and upset with myself. Only time will help erase the sense of loss. My husband tells me to quit beating up on myself, but what else can I do?

 Others have faced far worse loss, but that thought isn’t consoling. Four decades ago I lost an infant daughter to SIDS. A bird isn’t a child, but this hurts in a similar way. Both seem so senseless. There have been other losses, too. Cats, dogs, birds, relatives…somehow we cope. And, I will cope with this, but it is still fresh. Perhaps I’m supposed to learn sympathy and understanding for those who have also accidentally killed a pet with a car, a recliner, a garage door… It happens, and I’m certainly not one to judge. Especially not now.

I let all my tame young birds out to fly around yesterday morning, as usual. They bring such joy and I wish I could focus on that joy at this moment. My favorite, a young pink-eyed hen I’d hand fed and decided to keep, is the one I lost.

She had also formed a special bond with her look-alike. The two were always together, side-by-side at night, flying together when outside their cage, and often crowded together on my left shoulder, nibbling at my cheek.  

She spent a lot of time on the floor, and I knew that was something to be careful of. I usually followed her with my eyes, reminding the dog to lay still when she approached him and climbed up on his leg. To her, all the pets were just another family member. She was usually followed around by her friend, so I decided to keep him too, and allow them to become a pair as they seemed to want to be. They looked just alike, although he was slightly larger and they each had a different colored band identifying their parents.   

It was just me and the birds in the kitchen and living room. The cats and dog were outside. The doors to the other rooms were closed. No dangerous hot lights, no potential hazards. Window blinds down, so an inexperienced bird wouldn’t fly into a window. All seemed safe.

 I named her Primrose, but have yet to name her best friend. As I leaned over the kitchen counter feeding Pipsqueek, who can’t totally feed herself, there was a ruckus in the cages behind me. I thought a bird had fallen behind the cages and upset the young birds in those cages. I turned quickly to go retrieve that bird who, it turns out, somehow found its own way to freedom.

In turning so quickly, I felt something under my foot. In a flash so many things go through your mind. In that instant, I knew. I hoped beyond hope that what I’d stepped on was the dog’s toy, or something else. But I knew that it couldn’t be, and small birds are so fragile.

I picked up her bleeding body and cried, “No, no, no! Please God, no!” But the answer was not what I wanted. She never made a sound, but gently died in my hands.

My husband came rushing from another room, and held me as I wept hysterically. I’d done it. Me. How could I have been so careless? How? How? How?  

He took my bloody shirt and cleaned it for me, while I stroked the lifeless body of a bird who’d been so beautiful and sweet. The little bird who’d nibbled at my cheek, and was always so eager and loving.  

Why was she on the floor at my feet when the room is wide and big with so many other places for her to have been? She was at my feet because she wanted me to pick her up and put her on my shoulder as I'd done countless times before. This time I didn’t realize she was there and reacted to the noise behind me without thinking.  

Unlike all the other birds, she found it difficult to fly higher than my waist. She was getting stronger and better at flying and I’m sure she’d have caught up with the others in time. But, she never feared anything, and I was always ready to scoop her up.  

Why wasn't I watching out for her? I have no answers, only sorrow. We buried her yesterday afternoon near others we’ve lost, although not in such a horrific way. 
This morning her friend flew around the house appearing to look for her. I gave him lots of attention. He, too, nibbled on me and is very sweet. I’ve told him over and over how sorry I am.  

Primrose was the daughter of Flame and Fuchsia. They currently have three babies in their second clutch, but none have pink eyes and a white face like Primrose.  

Rosie and Pretty Boy also have three babies in their second clutch. Theirs are cousins of Primrose and one does have a white head and pink eyes. That baby isn’t hand fed, but I took it out of the nest and held it today.  
Rosie and Pretty Boy's baby from 2nd clutch.
The bird who loved Primrose showed some interest in this baby. It’s fully feathered and almost ready to leave the nest. The oldest sibling has been out of the nest box for a week and the second left their nest box today. 

What is it that makes birds who look alike be drawn to one another? They don’t have a mirror to tell them what they, themselves, look like. But, Primrose and my other pink-eyed baby, were drawn to each other even though other young birds in the cage were not related to them either.

Part of my pain, is knowing her future mate is robbed of the one he chose to love.

Same baby from Rosie and Pretty Boy.
Hasn't left the nest box yet, will soon.
I ask myself over and over why I spent weeks successfully rehabbing a wild hummingbird, only to lose my favorite Bourke? Why have I inconvenienced myself twice a day for more than a year by hand feeding Pipsqueek who is unable to adequately feed herself? Why do I continue to  maintain and provide for another bird that is wild, unattractive and will never have any value? Why not lose any one of them instead?  

I’ve prided myself on being soft-hearted and caring. Then this happens, and I feel like a horrible person. Unable to forgive myself.  

"It was just an accident," my husband tells me over and over. But, I feel careless and stupid.  

Raising birds can be fraught with disappointments … it goes with the territory. There are always losses in life. But, for whatever reasons some are harder to deal with than others.  Hopefully the long-term joys outweigh the disappointments, and we will focus on the joys and release what causes us sorrow.   
April Heather, sleeping.
She went to Heaven when 64 days old.

Normally, I'm an optimistic person, but it’s difficult right now. I loved that little bird. I pray that God makes space in Heaven for little birds who look like angels and love like them too. I hope she’s sitting on my baby daughter’s shoulder, tickling her cheek and making her laugh. 


FlyingCircus said...

Oh! I am so, so very sorry! There is nothing I can say to make you feel any better. Let me just say that the tremendous love you have for your birds shines through in every blog entry you make, and that is the reason I check your blog daily. Please know that you are in my thoughts, and my heart goes out to you. Please forgive yourself. This was something that could happen to any of us, and I've certainly had my share of near-misses. Wishing you peace...

G. A. Lewis said...

Thank you for your kind words. The affection of the other birds also helps.