My brother-in-law dumped you on us when he moved out of the apartment he shared with his mother I don’t know how many years ago now. You came as a pair — you, blue and white, and a green one. We never got around to giving you names, simply referring to you as The Birdies.
The green one escaped a few years back when I tried putting you in a parrot cage. Bad idea. The bars were too far apart. I left the cage sitting out on the patio one day, and I came home to see the green bird resting outside and on top of the cage. I last spotted him in the tree in the front yard. Never to be seen again.
But you, little blue and white birdie, you remained with us, alone in your cage, singing your song every morning. Most days I worked from home, it was pleasing to hear you chirping and tweeting in the sunlit kitchen.
I don’t know if you were lonely or sad. I don’t know if you were capable of experiencing such emotions. I’ll leave that to the bird whisperers and ornithology researchers. I do know that you seemed to accept your lot in life, stuck in that little cage in our little kitchen. We came to an understanding; you realized that it was I who fed you and brought you water, and you learned to stop fluttering around when I reached into your cage to refill your food and water bowl. There you sat on your perch, quietly watching me. Then when I was at a safe distance, you climbed down and took your fill.
I greeted you each morning: “Good morning to the birdie!” And in the evening: “And good night to the birdie, too!” I don’t know if you understood that I was trying to include you in our little family. I tried to remind the wife and kid as much.
I went away for a few weeks, and when I returned I discovered that you had somehow broken your right leg. It was horribly twisted backward. You were quivering and limping around, and I knew you were entering your final days. Should we have put you down sooner? I don’t know. Maybe your leg would have healed over and you would learn to get by with just the left one. I don’t know. You continued to climb down from your perch to get at the food and water, and in that I saw hope.
When I heard you quietly cooing early this morning with the beach towel draped over your cage, I assumed you were resting and finally recovering. In hindsight, I think those were your final dying breaths. Oh, the quiet nobility of an animal in suffering! There is much us humans can learn from you.
I gathered you from your cage, pet you like I wasn’t able to do when you were alive, then slowly wrapped you in newspaper and buried you in the backyard beneath one of the peach trees. Bootsie, our dog, watching curiously.
Rest in peace, little guy. I will miss your song.
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