Birds of all kinds are full of courage. Have you not
seen the little Robin chase a cat? An Eagle will
keep a man away from the nest. A cock will even
attack a Lion.
Oh, that I may have the courage of a bird... I read this quote this morning and was shaken by it. While I am a quivering mess, Henry may be soaring through the skies, or holding up quite well with someone who has found him. He may have flown many miles before landing, and a good soul may have taken him in, being very good to him, and at a loss as to how to find his owner. I imagine Henry is holding up quite well, far better than I.
I have my moments when I feel strong, when faith wins out, when a kind note comes, prayers, support from unexpected places. Everything I have written here has been absolutely from my heart. In many ways I do have a deep strength and inner faith that hold me up. In other ways I am fragile and the thought of going on without this bird I love so well is almost unbearable. But of course I will go on, for many reasons, not the least of which is to honor Henry and all that he is. If we are reunited the joy will surpass any words that I, a writer, might come up with. Oh what a glorious day. No money, nothing, could top having my little grey boy back on my shoulder, giving me a kiss. But I must equal the courageous spirit that he must have during this time. I must hold him up in spirit to give him strength as he is surely sending me his own.
One of the things that I have thought much about, these last twelve days, since Henry went missing, has been to examine grief, loss, and people's reaction to them. My mother is dying of cancer. My beloved grey parrot has just flown away, and his return is uncertain. A dear friend lost a nephew last spring, he was murdered, and people lose loved ones, human and animal everyday.
People, including myself, are well intentioned and try their best to say the right thing. Would I put the loss of my bird and my mother in the same category? No, because they can't possibly be. The circumstances surrounding them and in my daily life are different. People have said to me, "Well, be glad it wasn't one of your children." Well of course I'm glad it wasn't one of my children. Nothing worse could happen to me. But in this moment, it is my beloved bird, the one who has been my constant companion for more than a decade, the one with whom I have woken each morning, fed and cared for, kissed and cuddled when there was no human here. For years. To say that a loss such as this is less than another kind of loss is to miss the point. Loss is loss, and in the moment, at the very time of the loss, words of kindness, help, support, prayers offered, mean far more than trying to cheer one up by suggesting that their loss isn't somehow as bad as another's.
How very often I have said to someone, in a heartfelt way, and meaning it deeply, "I am so sorry for your loss," without beginning to understand what that loss means to them. I am feeling so tender just now. I want to open my arms and my heart to everyone who has ever lost anyone or anything. We grieve, we pray, we hope for a good outcome, we steel ourselves for the worst. I have not given up hope but even now, the absence of his presence has created an enormous hole in the tapestry of my life.
If Henry were here he would be talking and singing and making me laugh and getting into mischief and making a mess and delighting me and sitting on my shoulder, eating right off my plate. There are no words that can blanket that kind of loss, and nothing that can fill that void. I have to believe that my boy will be back, but his absence now is causing me to examine many things, and see what I am made of. I am stronger than I knew.
I am afraid, I am sad, I am grieving and have at times wailed, calling out for him. I am also still, and silent, and move tenderly through my days caring for my 11 other animals, kissing noses and beaks, pressing my nose to the glass to commune with Vincent the beta fish, and I will babysit my precious grandson this afternoon, and hold him tight in my arms and read him a story, and kiss his fluffy, curly blond hair. And when my daughter gets home I will hug her tight and thank God that she is well, that my family is well. I will thank God for all that I have, which is much. I will try my very best to have the courage of the robin, the eagle, the rooster...
As I just finished typing the last few words I had to smile. Recently I read a quote that I have shared with a dear friend and we have repeated it back and forth to one another under different circumstances. It is brief, it is enigmatic, it is powerful.
The quote was attributed to the character Yoda in the Star Wars movies. It is:
"Do, or don't do. There is no try."
And so for Henry, for myself, for my family and loved ones, for everyone that has ever lost anyone or anything I will not try, I will be as courageous as the robin, the eagle, the rooster, and Henry himself, wherever he is at this moment. There is no try. And so, I carry on.
May we all have the strength to find that courage...