Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh, That I May Have The Courage Of A Bird... and People's Reactions To Loss...

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.

~ John Audubon ~

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...


Lidian said...

I agree with everything that you have said so eloquently.

I feel the same way about the cat members of our family.

xx always thinking of you and Henry,

Shinade said...

Oh Maitri, You need not put on the brave face for me.

I do have some what of an understanding of just how very much pressure you are under.

I was the care taker for my mother for two long years before I lost her 14 years ago now.

I was only 37 and she was my last remaining parent. I lost my dad when I was 17.

And now I too have a dear pet that is like a family member to me and my husband who got lost somewhere out in California.

We had her since she was barely old enough to eat. She followed our Puma home.

And to us as our children are all grown and gone she was much like a child to us.

Oh I know that words are useless at a time like this.

But just know you, your mother and Henry are constantly on my mind!!

God Bless and Namaste!

Tink said...

The candles are still burning for Henry. It's good to be brave, but it's also okay to be sad and cry. When Henry returns, he'll make you smile again. :)

Big loving hug, Tink

Judy said...

Sweet Maitri. Your words meant so very much to me as I am struggling to get through this day, the second anniversary of my Mother's passing. My grandsons were here today and kept me busy, but my thoughts never left my mother's side. The tears well up as I write this. I DO miss her so much! I know loss and my deepest feelings go out to you; but my prayers are close behind! Thank you for "being you".

Carnation said...

hi there, i like ur blog, so peaceful!

Karin said...

Dear Maitri,
I am so sorry for the suffering you are experiencing in this realm of the unknown, regarding the where abouts of your dear companion Henry. Having known the deep bond of bird love, especially from such a tender age, I can only imagine where your heart is being taken.
My prayers and hopes are being added to the many others who love visiting you here, and admire your open courageous spirit.
Peace to you, your mother, and Henry,

Lynne said...

Our animals are our closest friends, they love us unconditionally. To lose such a friend can feel unbearable. Does the loss get easier? Yes. Does it ever feel like less of a loss? No.
I agree that losing an animal friend is different than losing a child or parent, but it is still a loss.
Please don't ever feel that you have to explain why you feel so sad, anyone with an animal friend knows and understands.
I'm sure you've all ready done this, but have you notified the vets in your area? We lost our beloved dog, twice. Once in Houston and we found him through a vet a week later. The second time, it was almost 3 months when we found him through the local animal shelter. Never give up hope and always think positive thoughts. (((hugs)))

Maitri Libellule said...

I want to thank you all so much for your loving support and gentle, kind notes. They have meant so much to me. Henry is gone two weeks today and no responses to ads going in every direction. It's been a really hard day, but I came back here and read all the kind notes people have written in and it warmed my heart and gave me such comfort.

I think the blogging world is a truly special world and while entrecard may have its bugs and difficulties sometimes, I met and connected with you all there, and for that I will be forever grateful. God bless you all...

Warm Regards and Deepest Blessing to each and every one of you,



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