The Lovebird

When I was twelve, my mom bought me a Dutch Blue Lovebird. It cost over a hundred dollars, so I was shocked when she agreed to buy me one since she spent the majority of our little money on herself. We bought the bird from a bird store when he was just hatched, so I had a few weeks to study up. I got all the books on lovebirds at the library and studied hard. I set up the cage, I bought toys and food, I was ready.

When we finally picked up the beautiful bird, I was so excited! We brought him home and I named him Jerry. He seemed happy and I doted over him. I was homeschooled and always did my studying in my bedroom, but when Jerry came, I would do it in our office downstairs where his cage was. I started working on training him to perch on my finger and we began to build a real bond. I adored him.

One morning I woke up and Jerry was stiff-dead on the bottom of the cage. I was devastated! I cried and sobbed, I was a mess. All I wanted to do was find a shoe box and lay Jerry to rest.

My mom was upset and furious, she thought we were taken advantage of by the bird store and that they sold us a sick bird (I of course, thought it was completely my fault). Instead of guiding me through how to mourn the death of a pet, my mom grabbed some paper towels and a freezer bag. She wrapped Jerry in the paper towels, put him in the bag, and shoved him in the freezer, telling me we would go to the bird store the next day.

I begged and pleaded for her to change her mind. Since I thought Jerry's death was my fault, I thought bringing him in would only be a way to load onto my guilt. I wanted my mom to go alone since I knew how she could get in heated situations and I didn't want to be around another one of her blow ups. She told me I had to go since I may need to pick a replacement bird.

We pulled up and parked right in front of the store. I was so nervous, ashamed, and embarrassed. I can still picture sitting in the car and looking at the entrance to the store not wanting to go in. My mom grabbed Jerry and brought him into the store, asking for the manager. She opened the bag and unwrapped Jerry to show him to the manager, and there I was again, faced with my dead bird. His little legs bent in strange ways and him, frozen solid. The manager told my mom that a twelve year old was too young to be responsible for a bird. My guilt expanded. Then the manager said that I killed the bird due to neglect. I was enveloped with guilt, I sunk into the floor.

The manager didn't want to give us a refund, but my mom persisted. Finally the manager decided I could get a Cockatiel as a replacement. My mom told me to pick one out, I just couldn't because I was so mortified and sad. I started to cry and my mom finally agreed for us to leave the store with a $30 coupon. She gave Jerry to the manager and asked for her to dispose of him, I wondered what the store would do with him. Would they just throw him in the garbage?

After a few weeks, I bought a Parakeet from Petco and just couldn't do it, so we returned him alive and well to the pet store.

Twenty two years later, I still cry when I tell this story. After months of studying up, I bought my four Society Finches, and honestly, it's been hard. Sometimes I regret it because I am constantly worried I am not taking sufficient care of them. Most nights I have a terrible dream that the birds die. Last night, in my dream, Sophie got out and died stuck in one of our cabinets. Its rough because even though I now see that the situation with my sweet Jerry was not at all my fault, I still carry around the guilt. Some days even looking at my Finches brings back all the guilt from what happened with Jerry.

I hope sharing this story will help relieve some of the guilt and shame I feel about it. It's one thing to know intellectually that I shouldn't feel guilty, it's another thing to know in my heart and let it go.

I love my Finches, and when I think about it, I am so happy I have them! They are adorable, sweet, and honestly, spoiled. I love being a momma to so many amazing animals.

xo, Catherine

1 comment:

  1. I really understand those feelings. As a child we had a number of kitties (about six) who passed away or were stolen/lost through sheer bad luck but I felt haunted and ill about them all. For seven years I refused to have another cat until my mum bought me a black kitten for my 17th birthday. I felt so nervous and worried but eventually she got under my skin and reassured me - now I look back at her (Amadeus) as my lucky black cat. She lived to a really old age and since then I’ve had a number of kitties. I still worry about them and like you Catherine I dream about something awful happening. Love is risk, I suppose. But what animals bring to us is so special and unique I think it’s worth the worry. Your birdies are lucky to be loved dear heart and Jerry would be happy to see you healing. Love you ❤️


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