The Pigeon, The Artist and The Goodbye

Originally Published 5.10.14  Republished 11.16

It seemed we were both getting restless, she building a nest because Spring told her to do so in her Don't-Mess-With-my-Stuff corner of her kennel, me envisioning what it would be like to actually work in my studio without the constant jabber and "contributions" of my winged critic.  And so, knowing she was in good health now and Wisconsin temperatures were edging ever-so-slowly upwards, it seemed like there was no more reason to delay her freedom.  The farthest she could fly in my modest studio was maybe 7 feet or so , and I was sure she longed for an open expanse of sky.  I had the glass door open to the screen for weeks now so she would become accustomed to hearing outside noises, the heat was down to 60 or below.  She seemed to like to forage through leaves so I asked for leaf donations from friends and was getting accustomed to cleaning out odd places looking for more leaves for Lucky to keep her busy.

By Friday May 2nd she had her last pizza pan bath, and come Saturday morning we headed dutifully out to the abandoned barn & outbuildings near our amazing electrician's house, about 2 miles away.  I had a lump in my throat, and knew then this was not the easiest thing I'd ever have to do.

I've cried buckets of tears and said more goodbyes in my life than I care to think about.  Anyone who has had to make "The Decision" about a beloved pet knows the heart wrenching feeling that stays with you for days or weeks or sometimes forever.   These little animals, who expect so little from us but are forever attuned to our mood and ready to do nothing but please, become quite the family members.  We carry on complete conversations with them and at times, they seem wiser than most humans I know.  I never would have expected those characteristics out of my Lucky being a feral pigeon, but they were there anyway.  There are times I was sure she modeled for the ever-popular Angry Birds, there were times I think she would have pecked my eyes out had I not been wearing glasses!  But I kept my eyes intact and in all, became quite fond of the little ankle biter.  When it came to say our final goodbye I thought she would sit on my arm for a momentary pause and then leap to ride the currents of the wind with joy, and never look back.  As it turned out I was very wrong, I guess we were attached to each other.

I will always know where my family members, human and pet, found their final resting place, and that is sometimes the only comfort one finds after making "The Decision" and you have said your goodbyes.  I will never know anything about my Lucky Bird's life outside of the seven months she came to keep me company, through our long cold polar vortex winter.  I will hope she found a suitable mate and made a real nest for real eggs.  I will hope she stayed warm and in the cover of the outbuilding those first few nights she was alone.  I will hope she always has food to eat and is not fodder for hawk breakfast ever again.  I will hope she flies high in that bright blue sky, I will hope she somehow, in her tiny bird brain sized head and gigantic heart, understands why we had to say goodbye that warmish windy day.

And so with a heavy heart I bid Lucky Bird farewell and wish her a kind life, for she came to teach me about suffering, healing, love and compassion.  She deserves a long and happy life, free from harm.


" May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind quickly be freed from their illnesses.  May those frightened cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free.  May the powerless find power, and may people think of befriending each other.  May those who find themselves in trackless fearful wilderness - the children, the aged, the unprotected - be guarded by beneficent celestials, and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood." - The Buddha

Here's to you, my Lucky Bird!

Watch Lucky's release....