Bye Bye Birdie
I haven’t written a post in a while for two reasons. One: being with Ari (who is now already 4 months old!) means always having my hands full and rarely having any free time to sit down at the computer (for example, right now only a few words into this post he has already woken up from a nap after only 15 minutes…and now fast forward to 5 hours later and I’m finally getting to finish it) Two: I really wanted my next post to be about Birdie, and I haven’t had the strength or courage to write about him. But today I do. Because Birdie’s memory deserves it, and because facing my feelings will help me move on.
Birdie’s real name was Tzippy (a short form of the Hebrew word for ‘bird’), but everybody just called him Birdie. He became my feathered friend when I was just 12 years old and decided I wanted a pet bird to help ease my sadness after the loss of my Grandmother. I remember being at Golden Griddle for breakfast, looking up bird breeders in the yellow pages of a phone book and calling from a payphone. I went with my mom to the breeder’s house to pick out a budgie, and Birdie flew right up and landed on my shoulder. We were meant to be together.
He loved neck rubs, used to love baths (then hated them and later loved getting a shower from a spray bottle instead), and loved TV shows with singing in them such as The Voice (he was a great judge, singing along with the contestants he loved and screeching horribly for the ones he didn’t), and hated TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy. He loved giving kisses and making kissy noises, His all time favourite thing in the whole wide world was people’s feet. He loved feet and would sing his little heart out to them to no end. Anyone could get a song out of Birdie by just wiggling their toes.
Getting neck rubs from me and (very young) Jordi
Happily singing to friends’ feet at Navin and my first place together
He sang songs that were completely improvised and sounded like he was reading from the torah, said “birdie birdie” & “pretty birdie”, whistled a cat call (woo-woooo), and also made a horrible screeching noise that sounded like a smoke alarm. In the end, all of these sounds pretty much evolved into his most popular song: the hockey doo-doo-doo doo de doo (“charge!”) song.
Some of the major events in his life included escaping from my parents’ sailboat, The Unfurled, in Tobermory & later that summer being rescued from Georgian Bay by my dad (and being dried off and heated by toaster oven). He flew on a plane in his relocation to Seattle. While we were in Seattle, he got a fur-sister in Mitzi so he always had company during the day. Then he drove with us in our car across the continent when we moved back to Ontario. In fact, he was the initial reason why we decided to drive. And shortly after we moved back we celebrated his 20th birthday in style.
Birdie and Mitzi pack up and drive across America with us (sleeping in hotels along the way)
Celebrating his 20th birthday last summer
One of the reasons I haven’t been able to write this post until now is because I’ve felt extremely guilty. I feel guilty about the amount of time he used to spend out of his cage when he was a young bird, until there were other pets that might want to eat him and his flying skills deteriorated, and then how little time he spent out of his cage near the end. I feel guilty about the amount of my attention that he got as Mitzi (and in the final days Ari) required and more of our attention and he got less. I feel guilty about how even though his amazing new cage mansion made him so happy and allowed him to stretch his wings whenever he wanted, because the bars were so close together, Navin wasn’t able to reach in and give him neck rubs like he used to. I feel guilty about the distance his cage was away from the TV in our new home (and how many episodes of The Voice he missed out on because of it). I feel guilty because while I did take the time to give him a nice, clean cage just before going to the hospital, I wasn’t able to be there for him, show my affection, or take care of him the way I would have liked to in his final days.
When Birdie died it was only days after I gave birth to Ari. While he lived a long life, and his death wasn’t totally unexpected, I was devastated (compounded with exhaustion and crazy hormones). I wailed. My family gathered around me for support, helping me deal with the loss and helping me remember Birdie with a candle where his cage used to be.
You may think I’m crazy for feeling so strongly about the loss of a pet, but Birdie was a part of my life longer than he wasn’t. There are times when I forget that he’s gone and suddenly look over to where his cage should be, or realize that there is no chirping in the background and my eyes fill with tears. As time has passed, I still find myself lying awake in bed every once in a while feeling sad and guilty.
Guilt is not a helpful feeling. Guilt is not productive.
I found this quote from Buddha: “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” I’d like to modify that quote to: “You will not be punished for your guilt, you will be punished by your guilt.” Guilt is a horrible feeling that only serves to punish and torture yourself. It’s right up there with regret. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t help anything. It just makes you feel terrible. And it’s a feeling that I inflict on myself too much.
So I’m trying to let go of the guilt. I’m trying to forgive myself. I will allow myself to feel sad, I will allow myself to miss him, but I’m trying not to feel guilt. Because looking through all these photos reminded me what an amazing life Birdie had and just how loved he was by so many people, especially me.
He was my first baby. He was the first living being that I was responsible for. He made me happy by entering my life during a time of sorrow and joined me in so many of my adventures for the two decades that followed. He was, and always will be, one of the first members of our family.
Navin and I decided to bury Birdie in our backyard, and have placed one of our favourite mosaic garden stones over his grave. When I get a chance, I will make him his own memorial mosaic like I did for Molly, and just like writing this blog post has done, I’m sure that making his mosaic will help me even more to deal with this loss.
Love you Birdie. Always have. Always will.