Death is but the Next Great Adventure

I didn't know if I was ever going to write this post, and even as I start to write, I'm not sure I'll ever publish it...

Last Tuesday, we had to be real responsible grown ups and make the horrid decision to have our beloved pet bird Wilson put to sleep.

As usual, D had got up and left for work early, flicking the heating on as he left and creeping about so as not to disturb Wilson or Pastry. Around 15 minutes later, I came down stairs to take the cover off Wilson's cage and found him huddled at the bottom. I think I knew in that split second that he wasn't going to make it, birds don't show they're unwell until it's too late to do anything, a survival instinct left over from living in the wild.

I phoned D, and just about managed to tell him what had happened, sputtering and stammering that he needed to get home as quickly as possible. I honestly didn't think he would last that long. I wrapped him in a flannel and sat with him talking, telling him D was coming and stroking his head. I tried offering him some food and wet his beak with a little water, but he was barely conscious.

When D arrived, he chirruped as if pleased to see him, the first noise he'd made all morning (he always was D's bird really, I was definitely second best) and we rushed off to the emergency vet - neither of us were under any illusion that they could make him better, but it had been about half an hour since I found him and we couldn't watch him suffering any longer.

The vet said he looked 'in good body health', his digestion was working and he hadn't been stressed or pulling out his feathers which was reassuring - he hadn't been poorly for long. However, he had broken his left leg, probably from falling from his perch in the night, and she suspected liver or kidney failure as his bones must have been weakened to have broken so easily.

We both knew where she was heading when she started talking about options. She said we could try a specialist exotics vet who may be able to work out what was wrong, but even if they could there was no guarantee at all it would be curable, he was 'very very ill and in a lot of pain' and it could be hours, or days more before they figured it out. We couldn't bear it. We couldn't bear the thought of loosing him of course, but seeing him so ill was even worse.

So we signed the piece of paper giving her permission to put him to sleep. We asked to have him cremated on his own so we can have his ashes, and said goodbye.

I think it is the worst I've ever felt. I immediately wanted a reason, and I was wracked with guilt wondering if it was something we had done, or not done properly. I was convinced on the way home that we we're going to find his water evaporated, or his seed empty, but of course it wasn't, we couldn't have done anything, and because birds don't show illness, we would never have known. D doesn't have any interest in why, and of course he's right in saying even if we know it won't bring him back, but after doing a little research I'm almost sure it was a liver problem. He was the laziest bird, would walk rather than fly if he could avoid it, and as much as we tried he wouldn't eat anything but seeds, both of which can cause liver problems in little birds.

The house feels so wrong with out him. It's quiet and eerie without his little noises and fluttering and I miss his screaming and flapping disrupting the TV. I miss hearing seed being sprayed onto the floor (and the cat) and his little bell sounding. The cat misses him too, and when I first took him to look at his empty cage he just sat in my arms staring at it, looking confused about where his friend had gone.

At this point we don't know if we'll ever have another. Right now, we just want Wilson back, but maybe in time we'll be ready for a new bird. We're yet to collect Wilson's ashes from the vet, and at this point have no idea what we're going to do with them, but at least we're not leaving him behind.

He was a massive part of our lives, the first pet that was just ours and D spent so much time training and playing with him. He was such happy little bird and loved nothing more than riding up and down on a stick, nodding and flapping when we made his favourite clicking sound or pulling out D's beard hairs.  I wore his feathers in my hair as my 'something blue' when we got married last year, and D wore some in his button hole too. He has a tattoo of his first feather on his leg which means infinitely more now he's gone, and we'll never forget him diving into is water dish to have a bath or filling up his grit dish with toys.

As Albus Dumbledore said "to the well organised mind, death is but the next great adventure." I really hope so.


  1. So sorry you have lost your little friend Eleanor. I can imagine how Wilson's big personality will leave a rather large empty space for you all... What a wonderful character of a bird to have had in your lives. The photo so captures the essence of how you have described him :-). Lovely that you will have his ashes to help with your goodbyes... Warmest thoughts to you all <3 xxx