When you lose a loved one, the hole in your heart seems bigger than your whole being. Three days ago, I lost my dear Coco. To some people, she was just a bird. A pet. A parrot.
To me and my family, she was so much more. She was a child. A toddler. An absolute member of the family. She had such a big personality and the void that is left by her tragic death is enormous.
Grief is a terrible thing. It hurts like a pain that I have never felt before. Losing Coco is, indeed, like losing a child. I raised her since she was four months old. I was her mother. She called me Mother. We argued. We fought. We laughed. We danced. She was naughty and always in trouble. She broke things. She ate things. She was always escaping. She ate dinner with us. She watched television with us. She chased the dogs. She bit the cats. She took naps with me. We had conversations. She was my companion when Marc was back in New Jersey. We were going to grow old together and I fully expected that she would outlive me. Yes, she was much more than a “pet”.
And now she is gone.
I will never get over this loss, like a mother will never get over the loss of a child. I can only imagine that losing a child is the only grief greater than what I feel. When a grandparent died, there is grief, but it is an expected grief because grandparents are expected to die at some point. The same, unfortunately, for parents and spouses. That grief is deep, too. But it is different. Not better. Not worse. Just different.
On Wednesday morning, I woke up covered in white feathers. I don’t mean one or two. I mean dozens of them. Apparently, a dog had bitten or chewed through our duvet cover and all of the feathers had come out in that section. It was a cruel yet comforting reminder of what I had lost the day before: my white angel seemed to have blanketed me in feathers while I slept. And I knew what that meant. I spent all day in bed, crying and feeling terrible. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t breathe. I felt dead inside. In my mind, I heard her calling me. I tried to get up, to walk out of the room, but my feet just took me back to the bed. It was the only place I felt comforted…among those white feathers.
On Thursday, I managed to go to my campus to teach. I cried when I walked in, I almost cried teaching, I had to leave early. Returning home found me back in the bed among the white feathers. Sleep was the only place that brought me peace. At some point, I checked my messages and received the strangest communication from a distant friend. She expressed her condolences and said that she knew how I felt for she, too, had lost her parrot in a very similar situation. I frowned. I had only just learned that she had a parrot. “When? When did this happen?” I asked. “Two days ago,” was the reply. My heart sunk. Her precious baby had died the same day as my Coco by escaping the cage and being attacked as well.
“Yes,” I replied. “YOU do know how I feel.” I had found someone who understood and, in some strange way, that had given me a bit of strength. A little of the guilt I had been feeling disappeared.
And then, because of that wonderful woman sharing her sorrow with me, I managed to get up, force myself to feed the horses–Cat had been tending to them for me.
The Next Chapter
I will get through this. There is no choice. And Marc and I have decided that, after some time has passed, we will visit a sanctuary or two, see if a bird chooses us. We cannot let Coco’s death be the final chapter. To let her have died with no purpose is sinful. We have to let it serve a purpose. Just as when Tobi died such a senseless death, a door was opened to saving so many other dogs, Coco’s tragic death needs to open another door to rescue a bird that needs love. But it must choose us and fit into our crazy home and life. It will not replace Coco. NO ONE could replace Coco. But it will fill the void left by her very large personality. I have too much love to give to let it just die with my darling little Coco.