As I am sitting here peeling monkey nuts (peanuts) for my beautiful bird, I am thinking about how there are no limits to what you will do for those you really love. Not love with meaningless words, but with your heart.
My bird Geffen is 25 years old and has been with me since he was a tiny baby, bought from the Zoo breeding programme.
He is in a big flight cage with his mate, his fourth. The others climbed through the bars and flew into the great beyond as they were never clipped, I don’t believe in it. The cage bars are wide enough for them to squeeze through but they have everything they need and are usually happy to stay inside the cage. They have a great view though, maybe too tempting watching all the wild birds come and go from the feeding table and bird bath.
Through all of the great escapes he stayed with me, at least most of the time – he got out twice – once during our relocation to a new house and once I let him go, gave him his freedom. Both times he returned to me after great searches…I could not stop looking for him, I missed him too much. I guess he was always meant to be my bird.
At this age he struggles to hold the nuts while peeling and eating them so I do it for him. (The peeling not the eating.)
His mate Gorgeous, who is a rescue but much younger, still enjoys the unpeeled nuts so I buy them in their raw state. I don’t mind doing it for him, it makes him happy.
Outliving those we love must be the hardest thing ever. Pets are a lifetime commitment. But also a lifetime of love and joy. Sadly, their lifetimes are usually so much shorter than ours and with that comes inevitable pain and heartbreak. Never, ever abandon them when they need you most.
When both of my last surviving cats were terminally ill at the same time a few months ago, gorgeous mother Pooksie and her mischievous daughter Lily, both with me for almost 16 years,
I thought nothing of walking kilometres far in the heat over hilly terrain to get medicines for them as I had no transport at that stage, and nobody to help me. I cleaned up their bodily fluids repeatedly, held them, loved them, forced medication into them but nothing was too much effort, I was on autopilot. It was all a labour of love. I needed my babies to feel safe, comfortable, cared for and wanted. I cried a lot and swore at the universe for allowing such suffering of innocents who only knew how to love. At no stage whatsoever did I want them to feel a burden. Not like some people make you feel when you need them. People who desert you when you need them most. When it was time for my babies to go, when we all knew that nothing we could do could change the inevitable, it ripped my heart out and I became a lesser person. Empty, heartbroken, devastated. I neglected my birds a little at the time as I found it hard to even get out of bed in the mornings. I could not sleep, flashed back to my cats’ horrid last moments (yes, vets were involved) and when morning came I was a wrung out sponge. Grief and guilt for not having been able to do more to ease their suffering slowly consumed me.
I find it really hard to cope without my cats, their unconditional love and the joy they gave me. The Rainbow Bridge, if it is real, will be my destination where I will be reunited with all my beloved pets – cats, dogs, birds, tortoises and fish. Over my lifetime I have had quite a few furry, feathered or scaled companions and with each death I have lost a part of my heart. I have decided that my birds will be my last pets, it just hurts too much when they get sick or die. Throughout my life I have been lifted up and carried by my beloved animals through distress and pain caused by those humans in my life at the time and would never have been able to cope without them. I will never be sorry that I had animals in my life, or that I raised my daughter surrounded by loving animals. When I became pregnant, everyone told me to get rid of my animals…as if…They all said, when you have a baby you will see…I never did.
My daughter is a better person, a great person, having experienced that unconditional love, always having a warm snuggly body/bodies in bed with her from babyhood. Having them soothe your heartbreak, relieve your pain. In a cruel world you need that. You need to know that such love does exist. I will never understand why humans are so heartless, especially those who are supposed to be your closest allies. They only ‘love’ you if you can do something for them, or if they want something from you. I think that the sentiments of The Little Prince should not only be applicable to ‘those you tame’, but also to ‘those you share this world with’.