Yesterday afternoon, Jakey the budgie died. When we found him, his companion Louie was distraught. He chirped and bounced on top of him. Jumped along the perches. Clung to the sides of the cage. Searched in every corner for his friend. And, for the first time ever, he slept in his happy hut. Always before, the parakeets slept on a branch close together.
We wrapped Jakey in a tiny blanket and buried him in the backyard underneath a 100-year-old Elm tree. We packed the dirt and covered the grave with brush. We prayed.
Hail Mary, Full of Grace
The Lord Is With Thee…
We were sad, especially my 10-year-old son, Pitcher (not his real name), who loves birds. He loves them so much he wanted to be one for Halloween.
Bird Costume Budgie
Pitcher, like many boys, holds things inside. But last night, he was very upset. He hurt not only for Jakey, but for all the pets he’s lost and for people he cares about who left without warning. He never really spoke about it until now.
“Puzzle pieces ripped out of me,” he said.
And he caught his breath between sobs and added, “Never coming back.”
And, still, Louie cried harder. So, Pitcher prayed the left-behind budgie would die, too. Prayed he’d be free to join his companion in heaven.
When we woke up this morning, Louie was still disoriented. He huddled in a corner of the cage grief-stricken. We read an article about how a parakeet can die of a broken heart, so we sat on the floor and talked to him and sang to him.
We wanted to save him and he rallied for a few minutes, but then he moved underneath his water feeder and just died.
My son, content that his prayer had been answered, played hide-and-go seek in the house with his little sister.
Pitcher took great care of Jakey and Louie. Every morning he made them chop and gave them crumble instead of cheap seeds. I marveled at how he gently cut up pieces of broccoli, carrot, strawberry and apple. He was a good birdkeeper — to the end.
Sometimes, I cursed the birds and all their droppings. I researched their life expectancy and grumbled beneath my breath, “Four more years.” Quickly, a house can become a zoo.
I gave our kids pets so they would learn responsibility and know the joy of loving a furry or feathered friend. I created these experiences only to be faced with the same decision every day. Gripe and bellyache about the bird doo and guinea pig poop or surrender to my own cause? I want to raise children who are loving and responsible. Sometimes, the person I fight the most is myself.
Last night, after Jakey died Pitcher asked me to sleep with him. “Stay with me all night,” he said. “Don’t leave. I know you will always be there for me, Mom.”
I held him as long as I could, until my arms went numb and he fell asleep. And, all night long and into today I’ve marveled at his faith. Maybe if he believes I will always be there for him, there’s a chance I’ll live forever.