Friday, August 24, 2012

Hard lessons and the circle of life

I had actually been looking forward to this post until today. For weeks we have been watching Sun Birds staking out our deck and building a nest. There was much excitement when the mummy bird moved in permanently. We would watch her for ages and laugh as the blue chested daddy bird preened himself while looking at our windows or chattered to the ‘other bird’ in the toy toaster (it’s our old chrome toaster).

We watched closely over the weeks and were over the moon when we noticed the mummy bird bringing insects to the nest in her beak. Big learned so much about how to tell the mummy and daddy birds apart, why it’s important for the mummy bird to sit in the nest, how to be still and quiet so we don’t scare the mummy bird away. We loved their trilling song that sounded throughout the day.

Because the nest is above our play area, the mummy bird actually became quite used to our presence and would stick her head out of the nest and peer at us as though we were just a mild annoyance.

But then…

Last night we noticed the mummy bird’s absence as we ate dinner. David tried to tell Big that it was because the baby bird had flown away. We couldn’t hear the baby cheeping and hoped this was the answer.

But we came home from playgroup this morning and I could see the baby’s head peeping out of the nest. I called Bel over excitedly, noticing the flies too late. The mopping that I needed to do was temporarily forgotten as I held my distraught little girl and tried to answer her questions.

She cried so hard. I cried because I couldn’t take away her pain. I had been so fearful of this happening. But the questions were so hard. It started with her standard, “Why?” But she didn’t want to accept my answers. I told her the baby must have been sick. “But they are not apposed [sic] to get sick.” I then tried to tell her that everyone dies at some point. “Why?” So we can go to heaven. “I don’t want to go. I want to stay here. Will you die? And Daddy? Willow?” My heart broke over and over as I tried to make her understand.

She has calmed down, but every now and then she still asks why. “I don’t like it when baby birds die. If the mummy bird gives the baby lots and lots of kisses, then the baby bird will be happy.” (She saw the mummy bird trying to pull the baby out of the nest. I told her she was kissing the baby.)

I called David to give him the heads up. We are going to take the nest down, wrap it in fabric and bury it when he comes home for lunch. I’m hoping a small ritual will give her some closure.

All she wants to know right now is why it died and if the baby bird is happy.

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