On A Wing and a Prayer-Death of a Wild Bird
Life can change in an instant. Death can arrive just as fast and the shock jars everyone. Today was one of those moments for me and my son. This was not the death of a person but a tiny baby bird. He/she was only days old and the impact on our lives is huge.
We were stepping onto the sidewalk to enter a store when something plopped literally at my feet. It was tiny, about the size of a large grape. We stooped down to look closer and discovered it was a baby bird. It was just getting some soft fuzz that would become feathers one day.
Alas, now they would never develop or be used to kiss the sky in flight and freedom. The little thing opened its beak a few times and wriggled just a bit. We looked up and saw the nest in the metal bars that held the canopy. It tilted as it rested in a corner and a long string of plastic dangled from the bottom. It was about fifteen feet in the air.
My nine year old stayed with the baby and I went inside to see if they had a ladder. Our intent was to return the little thing to the nest and hope it would live. The ladies in the store found a small ladder and we all looked longingly upward. All of us were too short to reach the nest even with the ladder.
So we knelt by the impossibly tiny creature and watched as it died. The impact of landing on the cement had most likely damaged it terribly. I recognized the moment life left the body and thought, “Lord, why me? Why do these things always happen to me?” Instantly He answered, “Because you care and will help.”
I thanked the ladies for their time and love, then gathered the sweet baby up and placed him in the car on my jacket to await the drive home. We went inside the store and pretended to shop for a few minutes but our hearts were not in it so we came on home, leaving the mother bird sitting in that nest staring after us.
My little boy named him Fuzzy because he had just a mite of fluff and “everyone needs a name”. We buried Fuzzy at the foot of an old oak tree taken down in January's tornado and my son prayed for him. “Dear Jesus, I pray the little bird that died is having a lot of fun in Heaven now.” I hope so too.
Explaining Death To Children
Children want parents to make everything right again. Sometimes we just cannot do that. This was one of those occasions when I would have given a thousand dollars to make it all go away. As children grow up, they will be exposed to a lot of pain and suffering. As parents, we want to protect them as long as possible and when we can't, we muster up the courage to be honest. I held him as he cried and when he said, “The world sure is hard on birds” I could only agree and also tell him of the millions that survive. I did not tell him the world is hard on people also. Sadly, he will discover that on his own too.
I did tell my precious child that everyone dies but most of us live a long and happy life. Fuzzy never had that opportunity but he brought a new awareness and tenderness to our hearts. So his life was not wasted and his death was not in vain.
As I explained to my son, God’s love is stronger in us now and we will look for even more ways to help all of His creations. These include the animal kingdom and humans alike. I thank God that He uses my caring heart to help and know it is because of His love that lives in me that I obediently step into a place of pain and grace. Today a little boy was side by side with me as we served one of God’s most helpless creatures. I thank God for that fact and I thanked my son for his own compassionate heart and nature.
I thank You Father God for trusting me with the vulnerable ones You made, for the child of man and the child of the air.