Last week my heart broke. My pet cockatiel, Google, passed away quite suddenly. Though I thought I had picked up on his ailment early, it wasn't early enough. Birds are fragile creatures. Google, all of 9 years old, declined swiftly, though several valiant trips to the vet were made, and last Thursday night he passed away. My darling is gone, and my heart is in tatters.
He passed away late that night, and neither my husband or I slept much. The shock, the grief, the guilt, too much to bear. He was ingrained in our lives so thoroughly. We have a flock of parakeets as well, but Google thought he was human. He spent all his waking time with us when we were at home. In fact, whenever I worked late, or when I worked Saturdays, I usually sent a text to my husband to let him know I was on my way home. His response would be "Google and I will be waiting."
Having had pet birds for over 12 years now, we have known our share of losses. I grieve these greatly. But during the past nine years, when we suffered a terrible loss, I would tell myself, at least we still have Google. I thought we would grow old together. Cockatiels can live to be 25 years old, sometimes more. Even our oldest parakeet lived to be 12. Most live to be 5-9 years old in our experience. And though they get great care, loss comes with the territory. Loss, as we all know, is the great price that comes with Love.
In the past several days I have struggled to come to terms with this loss. It has just been a week after all. And those of you who have loved and lost pets know the sadness of which I speak. He's not calling to us before we even open the door when we arrive home, he's not yelling to us to get out of bed and come let him out in the morning. He's not preening my hair while I edit nature photos, or chewing on my latest copy of whatever magazine. I don't think there is a book in the house that he hasn't nibbled on. We often would hang out together at the back window in our bedroom watching the wild birds outside, the rabbits, the squirrels. Google often liked to sit in the warmth of the sun on the windowsill. Something he was at least able to do in the last few days he was with us. He often ate dinner with us as well. He'd finish his dinner first, then make his way over to sit on my husbands knee while we ate. He napped with us, sang with us, whistled with us, showered, even. This loss is going to be hard to overcome.
In the past several days I have begun the process of cleaning out his things. Since we have a flock of parakeets, it is imperative that we make sure to minimize any chance of any of them getting the infection that Google had. So, no closing the door and weeping in bed. Things need tending to. The desire to go hiking and expound on the beauties of nature low on my list.
But at my husband's insistence, I have gone out to a couple local parks briefly. And, though it's been sad, it has been helpful, at least a bit. Saturday morning I dropped dear Google off at the vet to be cremated. I could barely stand the idea of going back home, to where he would not be. I took a brief walk in the park, tears in my eyes, grief in my heart. The sound of the wild birds in the trees a thimbleful of comfort.
For me, the love of pet birds, and wild birds, coincides deeply in my life. We had pet birds first, then became fascinated by the birds visiting our backyard feeders. Even here, in the midst of the city, the variety is wonderful. Everyday birds like sparrows and finches, chickadees, cardinals, crows, mourning doves, blue jays, downy woodpeckers, nuthatches, starlings, and the occasional visit by a hawk. Precious creatures all.
This loss will not pass easily. The pain in my heart, and the knot in my stomach tell me so quite clearly. But I will let our flock of parakeets, and the coming bird migration, help me to heal. And we will let nature work her magic. Though she has her work cut out for her. Google, my fine-feathered little search engine, I miss you with all my heart.
A traveler, singer, novice photographer, humane gardener, and nature lover.