On Monday evening, January 22nd, 2018 it rained. It was a sideway kind of rain, one that saturates the ground in what can be described as a “good soaking”.
Why is this significant? Well, normally it doesn’t rain in January in the Midwest—we are in the midst of the winter season. Falling rain like that in the form of snow can accumulate into several inches in less than two hours.
This rain was different in many ways. The day started out cloudy and then the sun peaked out around two in the afternoon, only to bring back the rolling dark clouds and fog at dusk when it began to rain all through the night.
It matched my mood and broken heart. You see, my twelve-year-old Black Capped Conure, named Daisy, suddenly passed away. A Conure is small to medium-sized parrot. They belong to several genera within a long-tailed group of the New World parrot subfamily Arinae.
I know what you’re thinking? A bird? You are writing about the death of a bird. Seriously?
Yeah. I am. I’m a writer and this is how I cope with traumatic losses, joyous celebrations, and everything in between. To you, it may be a little bird, but to me and my family, Daisy was part of our home. She gave us love, laughter, joy, frustration, and loud screeches and whistles—music to our ears.
I’ve had pet birds since I was eight years old. Technically, Daisy was my sixth bird. Most of my birds were parakeets with a life-span of 5-10 years. Daisy was a bigger investment not because she costed more, but because it involved more of a life-care investment. Most Conures have a life expectancy of 20-25 years, and require more handling attention. When I bought her I remember praying about the commitment of caring for her. I was in it for the long haul.
Unfortunately, she lived just a week past her twelfth-year purchase date of January 16th 2006. I feel cheated of our time together.
My daughters who are nine and seven are suffering the most. Their whole lives they’ve known Daisy. This is their first pet death and emotionally, it is cutting pretty deeply inside of them.
Daisy had changed over the weekend of January 20th. She slipped down the cage bars, and then all of a sudden I noticed that she wasn’t eating or drinking anymore but stood on her perch all puffy and breathing heavy. Even when I held her, she was breathing very heavy.
How did this happen? Did I miss the signs?
Well, there were signs now that I think about it. Since December, we were visited by a male cardinal on some days and on other days, a female cardinal on a tree across our backyard. Always between 7:30-8:00 a.m. when I was preparing breakfast for my daughters before they went to school.
Call me superstitious, but I have always been in awe of cardinals. They are beautiful and regal, and I’ve read stories on how people were visited by cardinals after their loved ones have passed. Or, maybe they are messengers from God who bring good or bad news. I even wrote about my recent experience of the cardinals that had been visiting us just weeks before in a previous blog. Click here to read the blog. I’ve also included some useful sites on cardinals under References.
When the male or female cardinal would come, I would stare and wonder what it could be telling me. And, now I know. They were getting ready to take Daisy home.
Really? Yes. I am that sure because my intuition tells me so, plus when my last two birds, Kiwi and Piwi had died, I was visited by Pigeons and Doves right before they passed on, and during our burial of the birds.
Both the male and female cardinals showed up on Saturday and Sunday morning, and then on Monday, a half-hour before Daisy died.
I also think my precious bird was sick for some time too. At least for a month she hadn’t been moving around as much like she used to. December was crazy busy for us that I probably didn’t even notice the subtle changes as I should have. Daisy cuddled with me more when I held her every night. She also had been making these choking sounds, or even trying to talk. I couldn’t tell. She could have been doing that for a while, I don’t know.
Birds by nature can mask illnesses really well especially in the wild. It’s part of their DNA. I wish I had known what was wrong earlier. I should have paid a lot more attention. Maybe, just maybe…
Ah, I can go on and on. I hate myself for being careless.
I called her Vet first thing on Monday morning. He was booked. Then, he suggested I drive to another Vet clinic the next day. I explained to him that I didn’t think Daisy was in any condition to be driven anywhere. It was then that he was able to change some of his appointments and come out to the house in the afternoon.
At 2:15, the doctor arrived. At first, while looking Daisy over through the cage, he heard the sounds she was making and said that they were actual sneezes. He also said she looked very weak by the way that she was breathing, deducing she might have an upper respiratory infection. He wanted to prescribe medicine but doubted any medicine could help her at this stage.
Upon hearing all this, a nauseating wave swept through my body. My heart began to descend in a slow kind of jolt—like an old elevator stopping from floor to floor.
The doctor then gingerly took her out of the cage and held her to observe her closely and see whether there were any tumors on her body. Daisy squirmed in his hand like she always did for our yearly checkups the last twelve years. He then placed her in a small plastic Tupperware to weigh her. We chatted for about thirty seconds or so, on what we could do to help her/save her. All the while we heard ruffling around in the small Tupperware, and then nothing. Opening the lid, we discovered Daisy’s lifeless body. Hurriedly, the doctor scooped her up and tried opening her beak, and rubbing her body, but she was already gone.
I watched with my mouth open trying to process what just happened. Daisy died??
The surprised doctor laid her upon a sheet of paper towel on the kitchen table in front of me. Our vet had come over at 2:15 p.m. and Daisy was dead from an apparent cardiac arrest at 2:25 p.m.
Shock, grief, and a whole lot of tears consumed me as I gazed at my beautiful pet. My mind was in a twister. My kids were coming home from school in less than twenty minutes; how was I going to be strong and tell them that their beloved little bird passed away? Daisy had been alive six hours earlier when they had left for school and now…
When the girls returned home, they learned about their pet. I can’t even describe in words their shock and pain.
Through puddles of tears we buried our little friend in the front yard of our house. Daisy loved the mornings the best and so it was appropriate to have her rest where the sun shines on our lawn each and every day. We prayed, grateful she was not suffering anymore, even though we were saddened of losing her physical presence in our house.
That night when it was raining, I pictured God crying with us. Baptizing Daisy in the earth with His love. I prayed no animal would come and dig her up and eat her. Then, in the morning, there was an inch of snow on the ground and the temperature was in the teens. I felt relief. God had protected my little bird. The soil was hardened and it created a protective shell around Daisy’s body.
And then during breakfast time with my daughters, we saw the most glorious thing before our eyes. Perched on the tree in our backyard, came two cardinals. One male and one female. They jumped from branch to branch. It reminded us of Daisy and now she had come with a male friend. They flew away high in the sky. A spiritual sign she was okay. And, a hopeful promise that she would watch over us from time to time.
So, all this experience of losing a dear pet got me wondering if pets have souls and whether or not they go to Heaven when they die. I’ve been doing some research and found several sites that talk about:
- How God views animals as a whole,
- How God views humans versus animals,
- Whether or not animals will be in Heaven,
- Whether or not animals will be here when Jesus comes back,
- Do animals and/or pets have souls,
- Does the Bible say if pets go to Heaven?
There is a ton of Bible scripture that for the most part address these questions/concerns and more. After reading through these sites and my own Bible, I’ve come to some conclusions. Know that these are my conclusions and in no way am I in position to push them onto you, the reader. I am still curious and will be asking my Pastor about them. In the References, you will find those sites too. So, grab a Bible (NKJ) and check it out yourself.
Alas, here are my takeaways:
- God cares for all creatures, animals included (Psalms). They are part of his creative process. He even says that the animals were “good” in Genesis.
- God especially cares for us, the humans because we are made in the image of Him and therefore have souls. He also says in Genesis that humans are to rule over the animals.
- I believe that there will be animals in Heaven. In Revelation, Jesus is to come back on a horse. Even in Isaiah it talks about the wolf and lamb eating together.
- I also believe animals can have souls. In Genesis, it talks about animals “having the breath of life”. Translation, souls.
- Has my pet Daisy, and all my other pet birds been resurrected to Heaven? This I am uncertain of that at this time.
It’s been almost a month since Daisy’s passing. Our house has been so quiet. I don’t have opened pumpkin shells and seeds to pick up from the floor and dirty water to change daily. I miss my Daisy who was always ready to jump in my hand to cuddle and let me give her kisses.
I hope the love and care I gave her all these years was enough. One thing that Daisy taught me was to forgive. Forgive. It’s a word that I’ve been learning a lot about lately. It’s ironic because I am in the midst of editing my third novel, where the protagonist has been suffering from alcohol addiction and journeys into her past to learn how to forgive those that hurt her. Read more about my novel, “Make it Right; Make it Matter” here.
And, as for me, for some years now, I’ve been dealing with certain disappointments in my life that I won’t go into, but I too am trying to learn how to forgive. I can take Daisy’s passing as a sign to do that and move on.
Red Cardinals and their Significance
Biblical Explanations about Pets Having Souls and/or Going to Heaven