Friday, December 31, 2010

Onward She Flies

I became the proud owner of a lovebird back in my sophomore year of high school, someone I was very close to at the time had one as a pet and I developed a strong affinity for birds almost instantly upon meeting her ornery little feather-ball. It wasn't uncommon for me to discover new obsessions frequently and with much fervor then (nor is it now, come to think of it), but this affinity stuck. I've collected bird related trinkets ever since; but Cami was more than just a component of my obsession, she was my companion, my friend.

Many people aren't aware that while lovebirds do naturally pair themselves in the wild, they are better kept as pets without a partner... well without a bird partner anyways. If they are introduced to their human companion prior to pairing up with another of their same species that person will be their partner moving forward and they are very compassionate little creatures. I am aware that birds are not the first animals to come to mind when conjuring up images of cuddly, lovable pets. They can't curl up on your lap like a cat or dog, and they aren't exactly hugable. I have even been informed by numerous people that they are actually quite scared of birds, and for this I blame Hitchcock (although I admit there are some rather menacing birds out there). My experience with Cami, however has proven birds to be a very loving pet.

I put in my request to be notified by a privately owned pet store when their lovebirds hatched and upon receiving the call I made my very best attempt at convincing my parents to drive me out there that very moment. The babies weren't ready to take home yet, not until they could eat on their own (6 to 10 weeks), but I was instructed to choose one of the newly hatched and come back to visit as regularly as possible.

Originally I had wanted a blue or green lovebird, and despite them being nearly featherless it was fairly easy to tell which color each would turn out to be... Cami had other plans; as I reached into the cage of newborns, towards a soon-to-be green birdie, she plopped herself right down in the center of my palm. She was strange looking... red eyes and a few scattered tufts of white feathers sticking out here and there, but she felt just right. To identify which bird belonged to which patron they made a colored mark on each one's forehead... Cami's was orange and it just so happened that the feathers that later grew in on that spot were of the same hue, however what was white turned yellow and her red eyes became a slightly darker more muted version of their original shade (though still red).

She came into my life at a time when I really needed a silent confidant, an unconditional admirer. There were many tears in those first few years and she many times sat with me on the rim of my glasses cleaning my eyelashes from the dampness with her beak. She gave kisses, nuzzled my chin and fluffed up her feathers until she looked more like a fur ball than a bird and cuddled up to take naps with me quite often. I have never had a more compassionate pet in my life, or a more knowing friend. Sure she bit on occasion and chewed up more than one of my favorite books... but when I really needed her she sensed it. It didn't matter that she couldn't speak to me or embrace me in consolation, it was better that way. I believe that her wings worked double duty. She was not just a bird, she was an angel, sent to bear some of my deepest emotions for me when I was unable. She came into my life to remind me that I wasn't then, nor am I ever truly alone.

I have rebuilt many of the relationships that were broken when she came into my world, and have made many new ones since then. I can confide in people now the way I was once only able to open up to a "voiceless" bird. My secrets are safe with my husband, and I share my idiosyncrasies that I used to hide with my family and friends again. But, Cami will always be the one who taught me how to find my way back to me. There were plenty of other contributors to that journey of course and I wouldn't be here at all today if it weren't for my family... they were the foundation upon which I was built and walls that kept me safe (from myself). I do believe, though, that Cami was sent to me on purpose, and for a purpose. She was a message from my Creator. She couldn't speak to me in my own language, but her intimation could not be ignored. Her communications were not lost on me.

I know now that it was the right time and that, that chapter of my life had ended, but her death still came as a shock to me. It wasn't that her physical deterioration was not obvious, or that I was unaware that her lifespan was drawing near it's end. I was more taken aback by just how natural it felt in spite of the pain her passing inflicted on my soul. It felt right, as much as it hurts to admit that. She waited for me to wake up that morning, the 23rd of December. It wasn't until I came over to her cage to refill her food dish that she began to act strange. From that moment it happened extremely fast. It was within mere moments that she was lifeless in my hands. I did not expect to witness her death. I really thought I would come home one day after being out to find her gone. Maybe I assumed it would be easier that way and was naively expecting at the very least a physical detachment from her death. But instead it was the other way around. Emotionally, though I cried many times and did indeed feel much grief, I also felt relief. Relief for her and for myself.

Rest in Peace my dearest Cami. You will never be forgotten.

1 comment:

  1. ok, so now I am sitting here crying- reading this post as if i had known her all along. thank you for sharing your memory of her with all us readers cat. i have also had a pet die in my hands (my rat named stucko). It is heart breaking but you know those little bundles of love gave every ounce of love that hey had while alive. rest in peace cami.


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