The Resting Place

Yesterday was far more difficult than it should have been. The last two weeks have been the same, more or less, but yesterday was especially draining. When I came home yesterday evening I was already in an…unhappy mood. I can’t say that I was mad or sad or anything like that, but I was slightly irritated/frustrated by some recent events. I’d simply lost my state of peace. It is always my intention to continually monitor and appropriately adjust my moods/emotions/vibes, so I was doing my best to keep my head on straight. A meltdown moment wasn’t imminent, but my entire day was starting to feel very negative and oppressive.

In addition to my life currently being quite chaotic and generally lacking in stability, I’ve come to an end of something that has occupied far too much real estate in my mind. This situation has changed so many aspects of who I am (for better and for worse), leaving me in a state of psychological and emotional limbo. Though I have had definite moments of identifiable enthusiasm, I haven’t experienced very much joy. I haven’t felt like myself at all lately…not for a very long time. I haven’t spent a lot of time with anyone in particular or even had all that many conversations. It’s just been me, for the most part. Me, my thoughts and I.

*

Parched Horses

Across the board, I’ve been feeling as though there has been this huge disconnect between me…and my life. I’d go through the motions of things, but the passion and actual feeling behind it has been scarce at best. This is hardly where I had planned to find myself at this point, but here I am. This particular situation that I’ve been dealing with has drained me of whatever energy and zest for life that I might have had—if I hadn’t allowed it to suck my soul dry like a leech. I obviously did not realize that I was aiding and abetting the demise of my own happiness or I wouldn’t have done it. You know, these things sometimes just happen…especially when we think we’re doing the right thing by someone else.

For the longest time, I have given and given of myself to other people. Usually, it has been at the detriment of my own progress in life. And you know what, that’s fine. I’ve never done anything with the intent of “benefiting”. I never wanted a pat on the back or a high five. I never wanted a scratch and sniff star sticker next to my name. I wasn’t looking to edge my way into anyone’s will. I never had my hands in anyone’s pockets. I always did things for people because I loved them and I wanted them to have a beautiful life. If I could help them I did. I always did. I gave my time, my energy, my heart, my knowledge, my patience, my resources—anything. I gave of myself until everyone I gave to was gone. And then, there was nothing left to give myself. And now I’m here. I may not have always what people wanted to hear or done everything perfectly, but by God, when I do something I nearly kill myself doing it the best I know how. If that wasn’t good enough for some people…I hate to hear it. I really do.

So, these are the types of things I’ve had on my mind lately. I’ve recently come to the point where I clearly see what the majority of my life has been about, and now I’ve said, “Enough is enough.” I came, I saw, I tried and things never worked out…and that’s okay. I can’t cry over spilled milk…even though I still do. My grandmother used to say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” It’s totally true, but she’s a fine one to have said it. Huh. Guess she would know best. This is a very crazy time in my life and I’ve not found the entire process to be very fun, but I’ve been so grateful to see any kind of change that seems to be in the right direction. I’m moving forward, as difficult as that is.

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Lonely Sparrow

I say all of this to illustrate the state of mind I was in when I came home yesterday. I went to look for Cami for some reason…I can’t remember why. However, I found her in her typical place next to the back door. She was staring intently at something out on the deck, and she chattered to me about it when I approached her. It ended up to be a beautiful green and purple bird. It was lying on its side, severely injured. It couldn’t stand up and it couldn’t fly away. I watched in horror as its poor body shook. I think it was in shock.

Immediately, I felt devastated. I love animals of all varieties, but I have a very special place in my heart for birds. When I saw that the bird was hurt, I seriously wanted to cry. I’m not even kidding. I wanted to scoop it into a box and drive it to the vet so they could cure it of whatever was wrong. However, I became anxious that I would injure it further by trying to move it, so I left it where it was. I opened the door and kept talking to the bird, encouraging it to get up. It just blinked at me and breathed heavily as though it were in pain. By this point, I was desperate for the bird to get up and fly away. I prayed. I talked to the bird. I tried everything short of throw the bird into the air to get it to act normal. Nothing worked. Several minutes went by with no sign of improvement. The bird’s breathing got weaker. Its body stopped moving as much.

I kept thinking the bird would get up. Surely, it was just stunned. I’m not exactly sure what had happened to the bird. It seemed as though a leg was broken at first…and then a wing. Birds are constantly hitting the windows around here, but they usually fly away after a few moments of confusion. I continued to tell myself that this bird was simply tired and needed more time to rest than the others. It would shake everything off and suddenly fly away to continue living its life. That isn’t what happened at all though. After awhile, the bird managed to get itself upright and start flapping its wings. I was overjoyed! It flapped and flapped, but it kept falling over on its side. Its legs seemed inoperable, but I thought it would still catch air and fly to its nest to heal or something. It didn’t. It gave one good flap of its iridescent wings before falling onto its back. I helplessly watched as the poor thing gave up and died.

Long story short, I was absolutely traumatized by this event. I burst into tears and got so sad that I lost my appetite for hours. I don’t care how ridiculous that may sound or how childish it may sound. All I know is I had wanted the bird to live, only to have it die right in front of me. I had gone out to help it, but was unable to. Even if I had somehow managed to put it into a box and gotten it to the vet, it would have been too late. The combination of this incident and everything else I’ve been dealing with simply upset me beyond anything I could have expected. I was sick with a strange, seemingly excessive amount of grief for the remainder of the night. The first thing I thought of upon waking this morning was the cruelty of the bird having died the way it did. It had suffered, and that bothered me tremendously. As always, I had tried to help, only to have it end in misery.

*

Goodbye, August

After hours of being unable to reconcile the way I was feeling about the bird’s passing, I decided that I needed to bury it. I didn’t know what that would do to help it, but I didn’t want it to stay in the shoebox coffin it had been placed in. I still felt compelled to help the bird, even if it was only to give it a “proper” burial. So, I went outside to a shady place where many birds like to gather. It is a miniature garden area that has been barren for years, but the birds seem to enjoy the blossoming bush that grows alongside it. Armed with a shovel and a heavy heart, I dug the hole. The dirt was as hard as cement, but I needed to make it large enough to fit the entire shoebox. Perhaps I should have placed the bird in the hole without the box and made things easier for myself by digging a smaller hole, but I couldn’t. I don’t know why.

 

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Once I thought the hole was large enough to accommodate the box, I solemnly walked the box to the hole and lowered it down into the cool earth. I stood there for awhile. The air was curiously cool for how warm it has recently been, but it was extremely sunny. It was a nice day for the wildlife in my yard to be out, but I didn’t hear a peep. There was no one there except for me and the poor bird in my unwanted shoebox. I decided to say a prayer for it and apologize to it for not being able to save it.

 

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Perhaps it should have felt strange to hold a bird funeral, but it didn’t. In my spirit, I felt that the bird appreciated it…appreciated my efforts. There have been countless times when human beings, lifeforms with alleged “higher functioning” than wild animals, have completely ignored, disregarded and even gone out of their way to belittle me and my acts of kindness. However, on this occasion, I felt that my actions hadn’t gone unnoticed at all. I knew. The bird knew. The trees knew. However, most importantly, God knew. That was more than enough.

*

A Parting Gift

Satisfied by the bird’s send off, I started returning the dirt back into the hole. I left a rock on the flattened dirt with a branch and some blossoms I picked from the bush. I decided to name the bird and remember it always.

 

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Taking up my shovel and camera, I went back into the house. The entire process still made me sad, but I felt a little better knowing that the bird hadn’t died alone and uncared for. I might not have been able to save its life, but I did what little I could. And in that moment I realized that despite the hardships I’ve gone through, I haven’t changed where it matters most. I still have the ability to feel compassion and I haven’t lost my innate tendency to help until there is nothing left to help with. Many people lose that. I can’t say I blame them at all. People can do some mighty ugly things to others…often without knowing the degree of harm they’ve caused until it is far too late. Experiences like that change people. Some people go on to hurt others. Some stop loving altogether.

I didn’t want to end up like that.

I didn’t end up like that.

 

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I buried the bird and I buried my sad past with it. I’m so very sorry it had to die, but I’m glad it chose me to spend the end of its life with.

I feel like me again.

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