Trigger Warning – this post contains content that may distress some readers.

This was not the post I was going to write for the Ragtag Daily Prompt – Purple.  As I chose today’s RDP, I had a bit of a heads-up, but plans change.  This post is about love, loss, grieving and wee birds.  It’s not really about purple but there is one small, important connection to the Prompt word.  Coincidentally, this post also fits the Word of the Day – Mellifluous.

Anyone who loves finches and has shared their life with them, will know that it is an unrequited love.  It has been thus for me and my family.  We love our canaries, but they don’t love us back.  Not really.  Not many of us have the good fortune to get a baby canary just out of the nest that can be partially tamed.  So the thing is with canaries, you have to love them from afar.  Their enjoyment is your enjoyment.

Yesterday was a really horrible day for us.  Our little canary died.  As your pets get older, you kind of prepare yourself mentally for their demise.  But goddammit, it was the wrong bird!  It was not older statesman, Harry, who cannot fly anymore due to his decrepitude, nor the younger accident-prone Pan.  It was our beautiful Churchill, and I wasn’t ready for it; Churchill who seemed perennially young, even though he must have been about ten years old.  He didn’t seem quite right the day before.   All of sudden he couldn’t fly, I found him on the dining room floor several times, and when he hopped back to the ladder of sticks that led to his apartment, I thought he seemed to be limping.  But you know, still happy.  Nothing that couldn’t be explained by a missing flight feather.

In Rapture

He came into our house.  So bold,
So young and virile; determined to be top bird.
I put him into the settling cage.
In the morning he woke us early with his trilling – a strident rolling.
Not mellifluous.  Once freed from his entrapment,
He chased the other birds, singing as he flew.
His throat bulged, oscillating from the vibration.
He looked very Churchillian, so we called him Churchill.
He had arrived and there was a lot to sing about.
Top bird was not to be his fate.  Instead one of the flock,
He learned to sing like an angel.

In the evening, Churchill declined.  Late in the night, my son found him on the floor of his “apartment”.  A heart attack?  We separated him from the other birds, because that is what you do with sick little birds.  In the early morning, it was obvious that it was his time.  We called the vet and made an appointment for a couple of hours hence.  I was heartbroken; his friend called for him and wanted to be with him.  But Churchill was alone.  In the end, we all die alone.  He slipped away just before his appointment.  We stroked him and he was beautiful.  Only in death was he unafraid.


We buried Churchill in the backyard.  He joins two dogs and four canaries who share that special area.  We had a “service” for him.  The service is important for us all.  It is particularly important for one of my sons, who is prone to walling off his emotions.  This service brings us all together in grief.  I chose a small shroud for Churchie.


I wanted something not too heavy and not too light.  I found a purple and red linen napkin.  It would do.  We wrapped Churchill in his shroud, laid him in the hole, and placed a coin with him.  The coin is the fare for the ferryman, Charon.  Whether human, bird or animal, this is what our family does for the passing of our loved ones.  One day, my family will do this for me, but not now.

For now, we say goodbye to our darling boy, Churchill.  Churchill, we love you and will miss you.

For Churchill.


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37 thoughts on “And Then There Were Two

  1. Oh Tracy, and family, I am so sorry. Fly free, little Churchill. It hurts every time one of the creatures in our lives departs. I love that you have a family ritual and burial. I agree that its a very important part of the circle of life. Best healing wishes to you all.

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  2. Heart crushing story… Thank you for sharing this painful episode of your family’s life! Good memories will keep Churchill alive in your hearts… *hugs* xx

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  3. I’m sorry to read this news. Losing a pet leaves a large hole in one’s life. It was very fitting that you had a special ceremony for him.

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  4. This is written with such tenderness. I loved reading it. And Gabriel’s Oboe is so lovely. Henrik Chaim Goldschmidt plays with such intensity, such passion. I read the piece much more slowly the second time, with the rhythm of that haunting melody accompanying. Thank you for touching me so!

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  5. I am so sorry for your loss Tracy. It was heart broken to read for me also. I believe Churchill had happy life as family / neighbor of you and your family. I believe he said ‘Ciao’ as flying over the rainbow.

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  6. I’m so sorry for your loss Tracy and can only imagine how hard it must be especially for your sons. Rituals are so important and I’m glad you include your feathered friends in this family tradition. Churchill will now delight the angels with his lovely songs. ❤

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