“Sometimes, dead is better” – Stephen King, Pet Sematary
I remember when my stepdad gave my mom a bird for her birthday. He was a little yellow and white cockatiel and she named him Rudy after a character in a Clive Cussler book. Rudy joined dogs Dirk and Allie in becoming my mom’s pet.
She wasn’t a bird person, she was a dog person. Rudy was young, probably hatched a couple of months before my mom’s June 1, 1989 birthday when I was 16. He was supposed to be hand-fed for a while so she could bond with him, but she was too afraid to handle him. Rudy was therefore not a friendly bird. He spent his life in a cage with clipped wings that never grew back.
I acquired Rudy from my mom about 10 years after she had him, sometime after my second daughter was born. Mom had adopted some cats and one of them had babies so her house became overrun with cats. I took Rudy home to live with us thinking I could give him a better life. My girls both grew up with his cheerful bird sounds in the house.
Rudy passed away yesterday at the age of 29. He was about 3 months away from his 30th birthday. That’s pretty old for a cockatiel. Rudy outlived my mom by almost 17 years. He also outlived his cage-mate Vinny who died around the age of 17, 12 years ago or so. He outlived Dirk, Allie, and all the cats my mom had. He outlived my dog Kylie, our cat Sweetie and my marriage. Heidi the cat is our only remaining pet from that relationship.
When I left the marital home, a friend of mine took Rudy in and cared for him better than he had ever been cared for before. He was finally a happy bird. She took him to the vet, gave him medicine every day, and played his favorite music. She is a bird person. Rudy became part of her family with two other cockatiels. She did a great thing by taking care of him. She is a very sweet, loving soul and she made a big difference for Rudy. If he’d stayed at that house he wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long as he did and would have had a miserable end.
I grieve alone for Rudy today. There’s no one for me to call who knew him. No one to share this sadness with. He was a part of my life since I was 16. My girls grew up with him. Now he’s gone and I should be able to share my grief with my daughters but I can’t.
I grieve the loss of my dog Kylie, too. She had to be put down due to kidney failure right at the time I was trying to leave my marital home. The tension and anger was so high at the time, there was no grieving together then, either.
I grieve the loss of my daughters. I gave them the best I could at the time. I was the most loving mother I could possibly be in the place I was at the time, consciously. Neither of them want anything to do with me. They are poisoned by the lies of their father against me. While I don’t agree with how he is treating me and I don’t think it is healthy for them to hear him talk about me in the way he does, there is nothing I can do about it and nothing I can say to convince them otherwise.
My only choice in this situation, is to let it go and move on. This part of my life has died. It is time to accept that, bury it and let it fade into a memory.
“We either learn to accept or we end up writing letters home with crayons.”
― Stephen King, Pet Sematary