Updated: Jan 13
Aug. 23rd, 2020
"I miss you when I least expect it." - Catie Turner
Rest in peace Valentine Rose, 2016-2020
(Link to her memorial fundraiser):
February 14th, 2016 changed my life for the better. That was the day I met my budgies, Valentine Rose and Mr. Noodles, also known as "Buddy." I was a naive middle schooler with my head in the clouds. They had the ability to fly. We were a perfect match.
The day I adopted my budgies, I had to go to school. I remember I couldn't focus at all that day. I was so excited to get home and play with my birds.
Since then, I've learned a lot about life as a bird owner. Their weight on my finger is so familiar; their various chirps, squawks and screeches are the soundtrack to my life. Okay, we can't burn scented candles anymore, or clean the upstairs bathroom with bleach. Maybe the nearest bird veterinarian is an hour away; sure, they like to scream extra loud when the TV's on. Yeah, seed hulls and feathers are impossible to get out of carpet, plus I'm probably allergic to their dander. And bird poop is a beast to wipe off windowsills.
But I can't imagine my life without them in it.
I love them so deeply. They were the first creatures I ever had full responsibility for. I fed them, (attempted to) bathe them, and basically held their entire lives in my hands. That's a big deal. It's like, the much easier precursor to the children I hope to have someday.
My birds are God's creatures, created by His hands. Somehow, He allowed me to be the one entrusted with their care. This is a priviledge I will not take for granted.
I know their personalities like the back of my hand. Valentine, shy, sweet, gentle, affectionate. Buddy, wild, flighty, funny, outgoing, mischievous (and a little bit of a brat 😉).
Ever since I got them, I've been plagued by recurring nightmares that my birds meet some terrible, unforseen end. Their fictitious shocking deaths lodged themselves in my brain. I monitored their health closely, noting every ruffled feather, every odd chirp, and began to worry obsessively.
Because of this worry, I know nearly all there is to know about bird care. Out of a spot in my heart that desires for them to have the best lives, I research it for hours.
I am not a perfect pet owner. Far from it.
There are many times I have failed. Struggling to keep the cage clean, or neglecting to play with them when I'm caught up in the busyness of the school year. But what I hope is that my birds have lived lives marked by love.
I hope they know, or knew, that I have always loved them, no matter what. That they have my whole heart. I hope they know, or knew, that they could depend on me to take care of them the best that I can. I always did the best I could.
You see, a few days ago, my baby Valentine Rose passed away. I noticed she was sick at 11am, August 19th. She died in the early morning hours of August 20th, while I was sleeping. I'm so glad I got to hold her at midnight, give her a warm room to comfort her, give her fresh food and water, although she was too tired to eat.
I'm grateful I had the chance to say goodbye.
I'm also glad the last thing Valentine saw was her brother. Buddy has been so protective of her his whole life. I'm glad he was by her side til the end.
Losing someone I love has been my worst fear since 2nd grade. Now I know I can survive my worst fear. It was - is - hard, but I know I can make it.
I don't think I'll have those nightmares anymore.
The day she died, we installed a birdfeeder in our backyard in her honor. Now, sweet Valentine lives on by providing for the wild chickadees and sparrows that live in the park.
My amazing friend Olivia also made a beautiful necklace containing one of Valentine's feathers. It means so much to me and I always wear it over my heart.
The final thing I would like to do to honor Valentine is donate to the place that rescued her. Burge Bird Rescue is a absolutely stellar organization. It is one of the only places in Kansas City that a mistreated, abused or unwanted bird can be given good care and eventually, a home.
I am hosting a facebook fundraiser to donate to Burge in Valentine's honor. If you would like to support an organization that provides care for some of the world's most vulnerable creatures, please check it out:
Burge Bird Rescue is a cause very close to my heart. They want every bird to have someone to love them. That is their mission and they will see it through.
Your contribution will make an impact; every little bit helps. ♥
So, behind me, Buddy is chirping along to the clacking of my keys.
It's been a few days, the two of us together. We're learning how to get by without Valentine, who's been our friend, our constant companion for the past four years.
I know it might seem stupid, but it kinda feels like Buddy's the only one that "gets" it. Ok, I'm not crazy. I know he's just a bird. But he's smart. It's scientifically proven that birds have emotions. So it isn't too farfetched to say he misses his sister. And that's something we have in common.
It's just him and I now. I've learned so much about him that I didn't know. Did you know he likes alternative pop better than the relaxing spa music I'm told budgies prefer? Well, he does. He sings along to Judah and the Lion like nobody's business.
He likes to perch on my windowsill, and he lets me know when "it's bedtime, Addie! Why are you still up!" or "The sun's up, Addie! Why aren't you awake?"
I don't know why I'm not awake, Buddy. I should be!
After all, every day's a blessing. I want to live it to the fullest. Every moment of daylight.
Burge Bird Rescue site: