I document my eighteen and a half years lived with a wild robin in 74 pages of pictures and story. His mischief entertained me, his loyalty endeared him to me, his death still grieves me.
The little yellow bowl is still on my kitchen counter top, tucked into the corner. When it wasn’t in Byrd’s cage, the bowl sat in that same corner for 18 years. Although the bowl is clean, the inside has a muddy discoloration and the outside is faded. It sits atop a round, translucent, plastic container lid—the same lid that I used to cover Byrd’s crunchy bird chow for so many years as it soaked to softness in a red container in the refrigerator. I notice the little, yellow bowl everyday as I prepare my own food. The bowl has been untouched for over a year. I can’t move it. I can’t touch it. The bowl is his. The space is his, too.
I don’t know what to do. If I neglect to write Byrd’s story and simply pack his bowl away, he will be forgotten and die again—his spirit pushed into a cold, lonely, insigniﬁcant whirlpool of darkness, screaming to escape.
Conversely, I fear that my narrative will conjure him if he is resting peacefully in his grave. The story could be a ‘Monkey’s Paw,’ an amulet that will capture me in the past; a sharpening of my desire to unleash Byrd from death; an invitation for his spirit to haunt my dreams and torment me for disturbing his sleep. I also fear that a narrative, raw and irrational, will expose my life in a harsh light. If such a large portion of my heart was given to a bird, what kind of a person am I? Am I one who has difﬁculty bonding with humans? Am I socially awkward and drawn into unnatural attachments? One day, whatever my emotion, I’ll have to move that bowl. But I fear moving it. It’s his. The space is his, too.
Byrd wouldn’t want it this way. If he could speak, he’d tell me to put his bowl away. He’d tell me to live more bravely, just like he did. He’d tell me to remember the times he sat napping on my lap, the tricks he performed, the songs he sung. He’d laugh at my reactions to all of his mischief.
However, I can’t follow his will at this time. As I search for the release of both of our spirits, I am reminded every day of my loss as I glance at the little, yellow bowl that I cannot move.