A small bird flew into a window and fell down right in front of Andrew and I as we were hanging clothes on the line. It chirped, twitched, and then was still.
I put her in a box. I checked to see if her tiny heart was still beating - maybe she was just unconscious. It wasn't.
I'm blessed to say that this was my first experience actually being present with another creature at its death. I'm a little shaken by it.
And how to explain to Andrew? "Why do things die?" he asked. Everything dies, I said, and I tried to explain the cycle of life. Things die, things are born. Leaves fall in the autumn and grow again in the spring. Our flowers fade and then we plant new ones. People and animals get old and then our bodies don't work so well anymore. And sometimes, we can get hurt so badly that we can't keep living. Her heart was beating while she flew, but then it stopped when she bonked her head so hard.
We looked at the bird as scientists: the way her wings fold up and expand, the shape of her beak for accessing seeds and insects, the curl of her claws.
We talked about respect, and saying goodbye.
We held a funeral. I dug a hole. I said a few words, about how pretty and sweet the bird had sung. I buried her. The kids put down large rocks and said "Goodbye, bird." We picked wildflowers to lay on her grave, "to remember," I said.
It was all I could do not to cry.