Losing someone is the most difficult thing to experience in life. The love you had for that individual is often unrealized until they’re gone, but when it happens, the full force of emotions crashes down on you. The shock turns into horror, the tears turn into waves, and nothing else seems to matter in that moment.
This past weekend, I lost my pet bird Ari. He was outside with my dad and something startled him, so that he started flying. The thing is, he doesn’t fly very much, and he ended up landing in a neighbor’s backyard. A backyard that was home to two dogs, one of which who used to live on a farm.
I’ll spare you the details, but all we could find after were 6 feathers.
he first moment I heard the news I was in shock. This promptly turned into sobbing. Most people probably don’t understand what it’s like having a bird for a pet and moreover having a cockatiel. Long story short, whenever my wife or I were home, he was constantly attached to us. Sitting on our laps while we worked, perched on our shoulders while we walked about the house, or chasing after us across the floor when we left him behind. He even joined us in the bathroom on the regular. He’s seen things.
Cockatiels are incredibly affectionate and seem happiest when they’re around other people. Just being close to us seemed to make him content. I can remember him grinding his beak, warmth rushing to his feet, when he was in the best of moods.Our home was pretty much his playground and even now I can see his trail of destruction. Feathers and fluff that he shed everyday, bits of paper and crumbs that he’s chewed on, and of course his droppings. Putting the loss out of mind is difficult. We put his cage away so that we wouldn’t see it every morning. We buried his remaining feathers under the pecan tree that we planted when we got married. We did what we could, but we still see him everywhere we look.
The hardest thing these past few days has been coming home. The moment I used to put my key in the lock, Ari would start screaming in anticipation to welcome me home. Now when I open my front door, there’s just pure silence.
Logically I know that time will heal the pain I feel, that I’ll reminisce about the good memories and joy he brought to my world, but as with anything you love, it’s never so simple. Day by day, things get a little better, but then you notice the smallest thing, like a chewed up piece of paper or where he used to sleep every night, and it all comes back.
Your mind wanders. You think of what-ifs and blame yourself; you feel his pain and then the grief and sadness returns. Despite it all, I believe there are lessons to be learned, even from the craziness that was Ari.
Life is Short
Ari was only 5 years old. Cockatiels can live up to the age of 25. To say he had a short life is an understatement. When I look at the situation though, I place no blame. I point no fingers. What happened was a freak accident that couldn’t have gone any worse.
The entire situation really puts things in perspective. Just as I lost Ari, my life or anyone’s could end just as abruptly, with no rhyme or reason. Such is life. Yet I have to make sure that I take that lesson to heart. Life is too short to be miserable. Those things you’ll do someday, may never arrive, so don’t waste any time.
Death is Part of Life
This is the closest individual that I’ve lost in my life. In that way, I suppose I’m blessed. Yet I also know, these feelings will return to me as the years go by. Understanding how to deal with death is a lesson you only learn one way.
It’s important to understand that everyone that is born, is destined to die. Dealing with death is the challenge though. Mourning and sadness are an essential part of the process, but at the same time, grief cannot overcome you. There comes a point where that grief must subside and turn into fond memories. Remembering the joy you had with the one you lost. Those memories may come with a hint of pain and some tears, but they also come with the happiness you felt in those moments.
Those you lose will always be part of you.
Live the Life You Want
If there’s anything that I learned from Ari, it’s that you just do what you want, where you want, when you want. That’s how he lived his life – he insisted on spending time with the people he loved most, he slept in everyday of his life, and he explored his little world to his heart’s content.
Most importantly, he understood what made him happy and he acted accordingly. That’s the most heartening thing for us to know through this process, that he lived life to the fullest. It’s something we hope to emulate in our own lives.
efore I go, I want to share the 10 things that I’ll remember about Ari. The things that will always bring a smile to my face.
1. How he would pitter-patter across the floor when he was trying to run after me.
2. How he would fluff up whenever he was trying to get comfortable and take a nap.
3. How he would clean my beard now and then when it was unruly.
4. How he would sing obnoxiously, out of tune, and without any rhythm (and I still loved it).
5. How he would randomly act like he owned things by banging his beak on them.
6. How he hated feet but loved socks.
7. How he would get fascinated by dark corners and spaces, entertaining himself for hours.
8. How I could have a conversation with him when he was in a talkative mood.
9. How he used to climb up my leg to sit on my lap, whenever we would sit down for dinner.
10. How he would make sure I knew he was home the moment I walked in the door.
I love you Ari. I know you’re in a better place and I’ll miss the crazy, obnoxious, fluff monster that you were. You’ll always be in my thoughts.