It was an intense game of baseball with the kids that lived next door.
Their front step was home base. A garden sprinkler served as first, a t-shirt dropped on the lawn was second, and an empty milk jug was third. The youngest brother was up to bat, his middle brother was on second. I was standing on the side lines cheering on my best friend.
When suddenly we heard a car screech to a halt just outside their tall garden wall. Next there was a dull thud. Then the car drove away, quickly.
All of us turned white. We dropped our gloves, ball, bat, and ran outside, onto the street, to see what that car had hit.
There, lying on the street, was the orange cat. The fluffy orange cat that was always sleeping on the garden wall or playing with a butterfly. The cat we always knew was there, living its own private life only a few feet away from where each of us played each and every day. And now it was dead.
The family next door had a little funeral, and the cat was buried deep in a hole the eldest brother dug next to their driveway.
As soon as the funeral was over I ran home. Crying like I had never cried before. Falling into my mom’s waiting lap.
She didn’t know what happened, and had no clue how to console me. I was crying so hard I couldn’t speak. Until finally I uttered, in between sobs and deep breaths, the neighbor’s cat had died.
That was in this life my very first moment experiencing the entirety and completeness, the solid wall of death.
Recently a tiny little bird made a nest in a wooden cupboard I had left outside.
The cupboard had a broken drawer that was half open. I didn’t notice, until I attempted to remove a few papers from inside the drawer, and a very upset tiny mother bird flew out, that a bird’s nest had been built inside. I peeked and spotted the mother’s nest, so carefully created. And carefully, very carefully, I took several steps back and left it alone.
Daily I would see this little momma bird bring tiny little worms and such back to the nest it had made, to the waiting babies inside that were recently born.
One evening, while walking the dog, I decided to take a quick peak inside the drawer. There, inside, was a baby bird. It was all alone quietly extending its little beak upwards, hoping for a meal. And I wondered, where was its mother?
It was late at night and very dark out, and mother birds usually stay with their young when its night time. Isn’t it too hard for little birds to search for food when its dark?
My yard is very woodsy. Filled with trees, bushes and more. It’s home to butterflies, bees, frogs, opossums, squirrels, and all sorts of birds. Little birds, colorful birds, quacking ducks and many many song birds that perform lovely melodies all day long. But, as well, owls, crows, and even a couple of hawks who sit high up in a taller tree that looks out over the river behind my house.
Birds that eat other birds.
I awoke early the next morning just to see if I saw the mother bird returning. I didn’t. After some time had passed I peaked inside the wooden cupboard’s drawer. And there, lying prone, was an emaciated little lifeless baby bird that had starved to death. Its life over before it even began.
I can only imagine that the mother bird, while out searching for some food for its baby, was eaten by a bigger bird.
Knowing what a mother feels when it has young one to care for, I can only imagine that the mother bird’s last thought, just as it was being eaten, was of its little baby waiting for her back at the nest she had lovingly built to nurse and protect it. Thinking of her baby waiting for its mother to return, to bring it just a little food so that it might grow up, become strong and fly away.
Dying, the mother knew she would never see her baby bird ever again. Her instinct as a mother, her sole reason for living, was being taken way from her. Her little baby bird, she realized, as her final thought, without its mother’s protective care, would soon be dead as well.