Yesterday at work I took my usual afternoon break outside, ostensibly to stretch my legs and get away from my computer, but additionally to hit the pokestop across the street. It was surprisingly pleasant for the time of year and I lingered a little longer than I have been since the weather turned. I crossed the street and headed back to my office and found a small dead bird lying on the pavement. I was struck by its beauty and it made me a little sad that what appeared to be a healthy creature had probably succumbed to the cold. Naturally, I felt I ought to take a picture of it. A bicyclist was coming my way and I felt a little obnoxious as I stood in his path protecting the small body at my feet. I’m sure he didn’t see the bird and wondered why I was just standing there in his way. After he passed I crouched down and took the photo, but I couldn’t bring myself to just let the bird lie in the road. I picked it up gently and it was still very limp and must have only recently died. I wanted to take it back and bury it in the back of our parking lot where there are a lot of bushes, and flowers in the spring, but the ground is frozen and I didn’t have any means to accomplish anything appropriate. It struck me as many things do anymore as unfair, or at least needlessly unfortunate, but I know that’s the way of nature. I laid the body down on a clean patch of snow just away from the road, and went back to the office.
The rest of the afternoon I couldn’t really shake the memory of holding the little bird. I thought of when Stan the cat died in the driveway a few years ago and how Debbie and I held him one last time before burying him. I also thought of the death of Carrie Fisher and the pain of losing someone around Christmas. My Dad’s brother had died just after Christmas not many years ago, the same Christmas as a close member of my wife’s Mount Pleasant family. I make a joke that Debbie likes to watch the sad Christmas movies, generally referring to them as “Everybody Dies at Christmas”. To me they seem cloyingly heart-wringing in a melodramatic way that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I try to be understanding of other peoples entertainment choices. Heaven knows I have my own cinematic guilty pleasures.
But this is a hard season for me, although when I stop and think about it, that isn’t unusual for any season anymore. Maybe that comes with age. When the memories you have come back unbidden with every little neural nudge it’s hard not to be a little melancholy with memories, good and bad, that pile up over the years. Maybe with certain personalities like mine more than others. I guess the important part is not to dwell on the losses as much as the connections made in the times we have together. Now there’s a Hallmark sentiment if there ever was one. But melancholy as I may be, I do think I remember things fondly that happened, rather than dwell on the fact that they had an end.
And that little bird that came into my life as it left its own and sparked hours of contemplation on the nature of existence and our part in relating to those around us. None of us can see the extent of our influence, I only hope that I can see enough of myself to recognize when the things I do are not being beneficial, and hopefully change that.