Friday, October 16, 2009

ashes to ashes

It's been almost three weeks since Sugar Franklin died. I finally cleared out the cart her cage sat on, cleaned her cage, and put them both out in the little storage building. The suddenly cleared space seems enormous now and I'm still getting used to it. There doesn't seem to be anything I can put in that place -- not the play stand, not a chair, nothing seems to fit.

When I come home I still catch myself looking for her. The other birds are sometimes glad to see me, sometimes not. But Sugar Franklin always ran back and forth, back and forth, in excitement to see me and hoping I'd bring her out first.

I'm also slowly remembering to only get out two food dishes instead of three. I've noticed that it seems to take a lot less time to feed my three remaining birds and that there is more time to pay them individual attention. I hadn't been aware of how much time and attention I'd given her.

Nicholas seemed to miss her the most at first. For several days he kept giving me alarm calls; when I would check on him he would turn his head and lean his little body toward her empty cage. They all seem now accustomed to her absence.

My plan, when receiving Sugar Franklin's ashes, was to put some into a pendant I could wear whenever I missed her too much. The rest I would bury under the tree where the bird feeder stands. I bought a wind flower ornament ( with bright colors that spin in the wind to mark her grave, but later I decided it might startle the wild birds.

When I hired two guys to do some end-of-summer yard work, I had one of them dig a small deep hole for her grave. Later I looked at the pile of dirt and simply couldn't bear to think of her ashes in that cold, wet dark place.

Then I considered just holding the ashes in my palm and letting the wind take them. After all, she was a bird, a creature of the wind. But Sugar Franklin didn't fly all that much, and I was always so afraid I might forget she was on my shoulder and go outside and lose her.

What it came down to, I finally realized, was that she belongs here at home with me. So I ordered a small container for the rest of her ashes, which I will put away someplace safe out of the sight of visitors.

Only ashes, I know, but as someone told me last week, everyone's grief is their own, and I won't apologize for whatever form of insanity her loss has brought me.