Goodbye Little Buddy

Yesterday, in the sweltering heat I made my way down to Warrandyte for a dip in the river. Ah refreshing!

There’s so many wonderful spots. Trees. Birdsong. River song. I forget how close I am to the city.

On the return back home I decide, quite last minute, to visit mum’s grave at Anderson Creek Cemetery. The last time I visited was on her 3rd year death anniversary a couple weeks before.

I never know how I’ll be once I arrive. Will I feel her presence again. Will I feel like I’m just talking to myself?

I walk in, reminded of the natural beauty around where she rests. It’s not a conventional cemetery and I feel like I’d be in a park, if it were not for the rocks, plaques, and mementos I pass towards mum’s rock.

The first thing I notice are the flowers placed next to her stone, in desperate need of water. I grab a black bucket. Set to it. Murmuring a greeting to mum, then…

I hear a chirp. Then another.

I look down by her grave and see a baby chick of a bird. Barely noticeable amongst the leaves and twigs, disturbed by the morning winds. The same winds that blew my bed sheet off my apartment balcony in the morning fyi!

It seemed the winds disturbed quite a lot.

I look up. Noticing the nest way up in the tree nearby. It must have been quite a fall.

How could something so small and delicate survive such a tumble? And how long had he (I deemed him a He) been laying there calling out?

I return to the car, grab some tissues and pick him up. He’s got life in him! As I feel him rolling about, mouth open wide. So I get some water and manage to drip some fluid into him. He seems to like it.

But what next? Put him back in his nest? It was much too high, and branches too thin to support me.

I decide to take him home.

In the car ride he is quiet. I hope it’s only a sign that he’s settled into rest. When I arrive home I feed him some honey in water and he seems to like it. I find mum’s old wheat bag, heat it in the microwave and lay him on it for warmth; with some soft tissues as nest.

What a cute thing.

He reminds me of a little old man. Patchy hair. Hunched. Half blind. Trying to make sense of this world.

I go to sleep with him on my bedside table. Hoping he makes it through the night (and secretly hoping he can be my new pet).

It turns out we both had a restful sleep and both wake hungry. And alive!

I decide there’s only so much you can learn from Google. So it’s off to the vet for some professional help and guidance.

I arrive, telling them the story of this little guy and our chance meeting. Thankfully it was empathy and understanding that then met me, as the vet assistant took the whole situation seriously.

With kindness and warmth, I’m told (essentially),

Because he’s less than 2-3 days old he has very little chance of survival. Young chicks of this age depend so much on their parents to learn how to be a bird. Wild Life Victoria doesn’t take wild chicks of this age for that reason. It really sucks, because I can tell you’ve really cared for him, but the best thing is to put him down peacefully and pain-free.”

So, knowing and trusting that it’s best for this delicate little creature I went ahead. I would have loved for this little buddy to have lived a full and rich life (with me, or someone else who would care for him). But I also would have hated him to have a long drawn out painful existence.

I’m sure there is some meaning in all this for me. But I’m not asking for your interpretation and hope you respect this.

But if you do wish to share how this story made you feel within yourself, then I’m open to that.

A most unexpected, brief and beautiful meeting.

Goodbye little buddy.

F

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