The circle of life

There’s a dead bird in a shallow grave in my back yard.

Let’s rewind. Earlier today, I went to eat lunch on my back porch and discovered a little bird with its head trapped in our fence. Like the sucker I am, I pulled the plywood from its frame and rescued it. It fell onto a table and lay there, gasping for breath. I left him there for a little while and then, fearing the neighborhood stray cat, put the little bird into a shoe box in the shade on our porch. Peeta came to see him, and then we left him there to rest with a bread crust and a little bit of water, in the hopes that he would fly away. When Noodle woke up from her nap, we went to check on him.

“He’s sleeping!” Peeta cried. He was not sleeping.

(I can think of at least three of you who are now yelling, “Survival of the fittest!!” Shut up, jerks.)

So I had to explain to the kids that he was dead, and that if we wanted to, we could bury him in the yard. We wanted to. So Peeta dug a hole and I put the bird in, and we all said something. (Noodle said, “I’m sorry about the cat,” which had nothing to do with it, but we let it go.)

We have always talked about death in our house. It was never an option, with a child who was ours because his mother had died. I have friends who never say the word die, and don’t tell their kids anything about death because it’s too traumatic. I get that–I might have done exactly that under different circumstances.

As I see it, the best we can do is just to be honest. Things die. It’s really sad. We have to hope that their lives were happy and that their deaths are painless. We have a lot of discussions about eating meat, and about what happens when you die. We try to eat as little meat as possible, from humane conditions because none of us has the willpower to give it up completely (Noodle is a bacon addict), although Peeta maintains he could do it if not for Ethiopian chicken stew, and I believe him. He also thinks his mother is in heaven, and I believe him about that too.

So we have a tiny bird buried behind the swing in the back yard. He’s the second little bird we’ve rescued this summer: the first was a blue jay chick who mysteriously appeared out of nowhere, whose mother kept flying back to feed him. We tried to keep him safe in the yard and brought him back when he hopped out, so that the cat wouldn’t eat him. And then, he was gone. No feathers remained, so we like to think he just flew away.

So we’re 1-2 with birds this summer. I guess there’s not much to this post except to say goodbye, little bird. We hope you had a nice life. We will remember you.