So Immense a Thing as Death

Growing up hurts sometimes.

On Saturday, I noticed a robin sitting in our courtyard. At first, I thought he was an injured adult. Then I saw the baby fluff feathers. Instantly, I reverted to the eight-year-old me, the me that wanted to be a veterinarian and save All The Animals. Thankfully, a few minutes of observing revealed that Momma Robin was still nearby, dropping off worms and bugs for her baby.

I kept an eye on him for the rest of the day, watching him hop across the grass, onto my tomato plant, then onto a chair, and try to fly with his stubby little wings until he'd sink back into the grass. Momma Robin came by several times throughout the day, until I was convinced that it wasn't his stubby wings preventing him from flight, it was a belly full of mealworms.

We were getting ready for bed around 11 p.m. when I heard it - muffled flapping and squawking from our backyard. I was confused since our private courtyard is fenced, but looking out the window revealed that a cat, a big, white cat, had scaled the fence and was attacking Baby Robin.

Now, I know. I am an adult. I'm also an avid National Geographic watcher and am well aware that I should allow nature to take its course.

But, in that moment,  eight-year-old me won. I flew down the stairs, flung open the door and successfully scared the shit out of the cat who fled back over the fence. Baby Robin was shaken, but didn't look like he was wounded. I went and opened our garage door, and he hopped right in. Proud of my rescue, I climbed the stairs back to our room.

"What happened?" Bri asked, half asleep under the covers.

"A cat! He was attacking the baby!" I exclaimed.

"Where is he now?" The Covers replied.

"In the garage, obviously."

Bri started to protest, because apparently some people don't think it's normal to put a rescued bird in the garage. But he married me, the one that does think it's normal, so he should know better.

I let Baby Robin out Sunday morning and we continued our little relationship: I left him alone and simply watched as Momma Robin stopped by for feedings. It was a sweet day, watching a baby grow and explore his little world. Toward the end of the day, the baby got closer and closer to our fence, until finally he slipped through into our neighbor's yard.

I only saw him once on Monday, but since Momma Robin kept perching on our fence with worms in her mouth, I guessed that Baby was still happily exploring in the next yard. I moved on to other things, excited to hopefully see him again once he gained the ability to fly.

This morning I gave Bri a kiss goodbye as he headed out to work and stood in the doorway watching him head out to his assignment. That's when I noticed it. The scattering of feathers first, then the tiny, broken body.

The cat had won.

Bri turned around quickly, I think hoping that maybe I hadn't noticed.

I did. I saw.

Despite my adult self realizing that nature had run its course, the eight-year-old in me reacted with devastation. I ached inside as Bri scooped the broken body into a box to take to the trash. I was furious that the Stupid Cat killed the baby bird and simply left his body behind. Somehow it might have been better if he had at least eaten him. Instead, he simply killed him and left his body behind as a cruel reminder of how mean life can be.

It reminded me of a poem I read, back in middle school, called For A Dead Kitten:

Put the rubber mouse away, 
Pick the spools up from the floor,
What was velvet shod, and gay,
Will not want them anymore. 

What was warm, is strangely cold, 
Whence dissolved the little breath?
How could this small body hold,
So immense a thing as Death?

- Sara Henderson Hay

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