Our show had a really great opening weekend! It was a great way to wrap up an awful week. When I came home from our matinée performance yesterday the boys were all excited and said they had something special to show me. Like bees on honey they swarmed around me while I tried to set down my bags, keys and sunglasses.
“What is it guys?”
“It’s a surprise!” teased Bug.
“You’ll love it!” promised Buddy.
They practically pushed me through the living room and into the “music” room. There was a produce box with a heavy book on top of it. There was small movement in the box and hay was poking out from the seams and corners.
“What’s in there?” I asked Man who had joined us.
“It’s a bird,” he said. “I think Sasha must’ve gotten it. His wing is broken.”
“Daddy thinks it’s a boy so we named him Jack. Jack Sparrow. You know…’cause he’s a bird,” Buddy explained.
“OK. What do you plan on doing with this bird?”
“We are going to foster it until Spring!” Bug said.
“Oh, really?” While the boys peeked into the box and cooed comfort to the poor bird I whispered to man, “You really want to nurse it to health? I’m thinking he should be left on the hill for nature to take its course.”
“I don’t want a fox or something to get it. Maybe you can take it to the vet tomorrow and he can set his wing.”
I tried to imagine adding an injured bird to our menagerie. At present we have a cat, 2 dogs and 6 chickens. I had a vision of this little bird with a bandaged up wing joining our flock of chickens. After promising to take him to the vet the next day, the family retired to the dinner table.
Later that evening I tucked the boys into bed with prayers and well wishes for sweet dreams. Man was in the shower and so I went through the house to turn out lights and lock the doors. There were tapping noises coming from Jack’s box. I went to the music room to check it out. I opened the box a little to get a better look. He was about the size of a dove, grey with black speckles on his wings and bodice. When he would spread his wings, a flash of orange would appear. The underside of his wings were a firey orange.
“I’m sorry Jack. I hurt too. They should’ve let you go on the hill. They should’ve let you heal and fight for your little life on your own. Tomorrow. I’ll tell them I took you to the vet but instead we’ll take a little hike up the hill. It’ll be OK.”
In the morning the boys gave Jack fresh water and some of the chicken feed.
“Today you see the vet Jack! He’ll make you all better!” Bug assured the bird.
Buddy had band this morning and so I drove the boys to school.
“Is Jack in the back, Mom?” Buddy asked while twisting in his seat to see if the box was in the rear of the truck.
“No Buddy. I’ll call the vet when I get home and make an appointment.”
“Oh. But you are going to take him to the vet, right?”
“I’ll call as soon as I get home,” I promised.
When I got home Jack was frantically pecking at the box. It sounded like someone knocking at the door, so forceful were his blows. He was working on making one of the holes in the side of the box bigger. He would peck and tap and then stick his head through and try to push his body out. His beak was long and in his struggle his long thin tongue would sometimes slip out. He looked so panicked. I know his wing must hurt and then to struggle to get free on top of that! The fear and the pain.
I called the vet as I promised and they told me they would only euthanize him if I brought him in.
This is what I knew was the inevitable. I sat on the floor with the box in my lap. Jack continued to try to break free of his box. I held him awhile and cried. I’m tired of things dying. I’m tired of lying to my kids to shield them from the sting of it. I was tired for Jack and his pain and his struggling to break out of the confinement and darkness of the box.
I made one more phone call.
I soon saw Caren trudging up my drive way, wrapped in a hoodie. It’s a grey, wet and cold day. I introduced her to Jack and then together we hiked up the hillside.
“Maybe let him go under some shrubbery so he has a little protection and a little bit of a chance,” she suggested.
After choosing a spot, I opened the box and Jack half hopped, half flew to the edge of the box and then took a hop out onto the ground. Out of the box he spread his wings the best he could and splayed out his beautiful orange feathers. We watched him hop off with his wing folded askew over his back.
I’m going to tell the boys that the vet took him to a bird sanctuary. We can add that to the lie about burying their beloved chickens. Maybe I should go and dig a faux grave now. Might be therapeutic.
“Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to Him than birds.” Matthew 6:26