The first Pet Death


ghost-birdExplaining to a 3-year-old that the budgie is dead, is unpleasant. But explaining that it’s Mummy’s fault because she job-shares with the Grim Reaper, is unnecessary—so at least Timmy doesn’t blame me for anything.

Only two days ago, I’d been joking with someone about not being able to keep anything alive. (Context: I’d just been given a small delicate plant in a cup, and I didn’t hold much hope for it.) Really, then, all I’d been thinking about was plants. And fish. But mostly I was thinking about plants.

Later that day, the plant was dead.

The next day—yesterday—the budgie starved to death because I’d forgotten to check his seed levels, and he’d been too British to complain about it.

Today, it occurred to me that my garden probably shouldn’t be brown and crunchy like that…

Death follows me everywhere. I couldn’t keep a fire alive in a straw house. How is it that I’m allowed to have kids?

Initially, Timmy had seemed to be taking Gambit’s death quite precociously. “Oh…” he said, staring down at the soft animal lying on the cage floor in a very unbird-like way, “…so sad. No more bird.” He saw me bawling on the couch, wallowing in my remorse and self-disgust. “Sad, Mummy?” he said. “You sad? You okay?”

Not as okay as he was, apparently. But I was glad I didn’t have to deal with his distress, on top of it all.

Something seemed to strike him as off, though, later that evening: “When is he wake up…?”

Then when he saw the empty cage today: “Oh, bird’s gone! He’s gone! Where’s bird gone? Where’s bird?”

Claiming the title of ‘bird lover’ would be fraudulent of me, now. Not when I starved one to death. And in cruel poetic justice, I didn’t discover him already dead—I discovered him in the process, weakly flailing, too far gone for me to save. All I could do was wait. And not look—but hear the soft avian death rattle of spasmodic wingbeats against the floor bars. They slowed. Eventually.

I hear pet rocks have a persistent and tenacious lifespan. Maybe I should start with one of those. Meanwhile, I tell Husband to eat his dinner—we’ve only recently got our Life policies sorted out, and I don’t want to be accused of mariticide and insurance fraud.


(2) Comments

  • Deborah Makarios
    02 Jul 2015

    Oh dear! I think the plant-killing thing must be genetic: I have exactly the same problem. (Black thumb…)
    Have you considered a cat? Cats are never British enough to not mention the lack of food. In fact, cats thoughtfully start reminding you a couple of hours before dinner time every day, just in case it slips your mind. And should you still forget, they will disgustingly disembowel something on the floor to refresh your memory.

    • Eve
      02 Jul 2015

      We wouldn’t consider a cat — I find them annoying (I don’t like arrogant self-absorption in any species), and although I do enjoy kittens, they don’t stay that way. Husband doesn’t like cats, I don’t like dogs, and our landlords wouldn’t let us have either. Permitted pets in this house have to be of the caged/tanked/terrariumed variety.

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