Yesterday, Inigo the Nanner King and I said our goodbye.
We arrived at the veterinarian’s at 11:40. While we were in the visiting room, at 11:50, I remembered Steph, a customer service rep at Birdhism, said she would post Inigo as Chubby Bird of the Day at 11:45. I opened Facebook and it was the first post in my feed.
“There you are, Inigo! There you are, for the whole world to see! There you are!”
He looked at the phone and made kisses! He was so happy!
Shortly after that, once he got used to his surroundings, he let me know he was ready, though he did get tangled in my hair when I tried to pass him to the tech for sedation. He let out a squeak when she gave him the injection.
“That is the last pain you will ever feel, my baby bird.”
She handed him back to me, and I held him on me, over my heart, on the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt I was wearing the day I met him. It was his comfort shirt. She left, and I hummed his favorite song to him as he fell asleep, “Silent Night.”
We stayed like that for 10 minutes. I told him so very many times how special he was, how much I loved him, how much everybody loved him.
Then I pushed the button for the veterinarian and the tech to come in, and I held him and sang to him again after they put the heart needle in.
I looked up at the ceiling, trying not to fall apart and weep all over him, and when I looked back down at him, his eyes were open. He was looking up at me.
“I’m here. I’m here. I’m here. You’re not alone. I’m here. It’s okay to go. I love you. I’m here. It’s okay.”
He closed his eyes, took a little breath, so faint it was barely two tiny clicks, and was gone. He slipped away gently, knowing only peace.
When I called the tech back in, I told her he opened his eyes before he died. She said sometimes birds do that to say goodbye.
Inigo, my beautiful little Nanner King, I will miss you every day for the rest of my life. You honored me in an incomparable way when you climbed over your cagemate, clung to the door, and then flew over, landed on me, and would not come off. You chose me that long-ago April afternoon, and I hope you know how much joy and love you brought into my life. Then you honored me again when you opened your eyes in your final moments here, so I was the last thing you saw.
Today Holidailies asks “What do you actually celebrate during the holidays, if anything?”
I’m an atheist, so nothing religious. I celebrate friendship, the achievements of the year, the wonder of winter, and the festive spirit around me. I haven’t put up a tree in 9 years, but when I did, it was a Memory Tree, not a Christmas tree: The ornaments were given to me by my parents or friends, or I bought them on my travels, while out with friends, or as a collector’s item.
This year I’m also celebrating the forthcoming end of 2022, as this was not a particularly fabulous year. It was great up until about April, and then I got hammered with a bunch of health issues, starting with a root canal retreatment after a dentist missed an entire canal a few years ago. But hey, I still haven’t gotten You-Know-What-19, knock on wood and let’s not tempt fate.
The biggest thing is that I’m officially a heart patient, after a scan revealed a 40-60% blockage in a coronary artery. So now I have a cardiologist. He put me on rosuvastatin (Crestor) and wow, my LDL and triglycerides fell into the basement and my HDL is at pre-menopausal levels. The only real side effect I’ve gotten is that if I don’t stay hydrated my spit gets kind of bubbly and frothy, you’re welcome for the image. It also makes me a bit tired, but it’s actually a good thing because when my head hits the pillow, I’m out. Me, a lifelong insomniac. I mean, while the lights are on I’m awake, but once I flip the switch, I get sleepy very quickly. Weird but true.
When I spoke to my cardiologist, I said, “So, what, about 75?” Meaning my lifespan. Hey, next year, when I hit 57, I will have outlived everyone on my father’s side of the family except my father. People on his side all had lousy tickers and died in their early to mid 50s, which is why my internist sent me to a cardiologist in the first place.
Anyway, the cardiologist said, “NINETY-five.”
“I’ll compromise and say 85.”
“Doc, I don’t want to be 95 years old in the United States, for all kinds of reasons.”
And it’s true. I don’t. For one thing, I’m a Gen-Xer. I don’t suffer from the delusion that I’ll ever be able to fully retire. For another, with the American politics, health care system, and treatment of senior seniors being what they are, no. And there is some Alzheimer’s in my family and I want my body to go before my mind.
But let’s not dwell on all of that. Point is, I’m SUPER glad that 2022 is drawing down because I’ve had better years.
And it started so WELL, too, with a fun New Year’s Eve party, some great city-hikes, a day-trip to Richmond, and plans to go to Poland to see my favorite band, Poets of the Fall (which got canceled for a few reasons).
Moving on, as this is a HAPPY occasion…
I did enjoy one thing all year, though: My apartment. After a major misfire with my last place, I’m happy to report that the place I moved into a year ago is PERFECT for me. It’s big, I love the layout, I have two full bathrooms (one of which is pretty much Inigo’s, heh), a separate office, and a spare room that I use as a home gym. I’m near everything—restaurants, nightlife, groceries, drugstore, some retail, most of my health care team, parks, trails, the county library, and a Metro station–but my place isn’t on a main drag. I told the landlord I’m not leaving unless I relocate, retire, expatriate, or expire. It’s perfect for aging in place.
Bonus: There is a great tree right in front of my living room window and all sorts of birds come by. Blue Jays, Sparrows, Chickadees, Northern Mockingbirds, Mourning Doves, American Robins, American Crows, and Fish Crows are the main visitors, but this fall a White-Breasted Nuthatch stopped by, and a Downy Woodpecker spent a few days woodpecking.
Squirrels of assorted hues, including black, also scamper around, and I like to think one of the black ones is the son or daughter of Amica, the black squirrel who used to sit in the tree and watch my TV through the window when I put cartoons on for Inigo. Unfortunately, she died. I found her curled around a fencepost last winter, not long after she passed as her tummy was still warm. Her back legs and hips were broken, so she probably got clipped by a car. I cried for a week and miss her still.
Here she is, as seen through the window, welcoming me when I took measurements of the apartment before I moved in. Whenever I put cartoons on, she would sit in the tree just like that and watch them.
I often put peanuts on the balcony railing. In the spring the Crows come for them, but lately the Blue Jays seem to have claimed the territory. I think they know my face and see me from afar because when I went out there today to put the peanuts out, I could have sworn there were no birds in any of the trees nearby, and suddenly a Blue Jay landed in the tree, looked at me, and let out a low series of whistles and soft chirps that sounded a little bit like R2-D2 gargling. Then it let out a few of the more customary and ear-splitting Blue Jay calls and boom, three more flew in. So I said, “Peanuts here! Get yer peanuts here!” and went inside to watch them from the living room. I’ll try to get some photos of them, but they are still a little skittish.