(Warning: Photos may be disturbing.)
Hearing a loud thump, I race to the front window where I think the sound is coming from, and as I feared, you have hit the window, hard. Was something chasing you that you would fly so fast into the window and instead of finding escape you found glass? Or did you think you saw the sky, open and free before you?
I quickly open the door and pick you up, a female Black-Headed Grosbeak, cupping you in my palm, willing you to live, knowing that my words of comfort to you go unheard. I know you will not be among those I have saved, placed in a dark, warm, box till time for release back out into the freedom of the sky.
I talk to you, telling you how sorry I am that you didn’t see the glass, the glass I try so hard to keep visible. I hold you warm, safe, and cry as life ebbs away from you.
Why have I never noticed the yellow under spotted wings before? Delicate and beautiful it is. This is not the way I wanted to see yellow for the first time. I would have prefered to see the hidden color as you flew, joyous in your freedom.
I am humbled at the wonder of your coloring, your spots, your stripes. Just this morning I watched one like you bathe in the birdbath, sending showers of water up into the air.
I wanted more life for you. I wanted more freedom, more songs, more trees keeping you safe at night. Instead, I wrap you gently in paper towels, and later we will bury you among flowers, near the feeders where you came for daily sustenance. I will pray for new life from others, not to fill the empty space, but to confirm the assurance that life does go on, despite our losses and our pain and our questions.
I have not photographed death before. But today the words flow from my mind like a river, unbidden. I weep for you, a life cut short, too short. Who grieves for you besides me?
We lay you to rest ‘neath the Butterfly Bush, where tiger-striped butterflies dance on purple blossoms, near the feeders where your ‘ohana finds sustenance.
Sleep well, my friend, and sing lovely songs to the Creator who made you.