Life in Hades

It’s been 102 or so the past three days.  Today’s not as warm, but a thunderstorm is threatening and so it’s very humid, which is uncomfortable unless you have chemo-dry skin.  I’m still not deliberately going out to bask in it.

There’s a nest in the eves of my entryway.  It seems abandoned now, and there was a fledgling bird on the sidewalk yesterday morning.  It  was mostly feathered with a short stubby tail and little tufts of down on its head.  When I returned in the evening, It was about two feet away from where it originally was on the now blistering hot sidewalk.  Not knowing if it was injured, and being completely ignorant of wild bird habits, I did what most people do, which was absolutely WRONG.  I placed it in a shoebox of shredded newspaper with a bottle lid of water and some flax seeds and locked it in the powder room where it was dark and cool.  I checked it a few times and found it had crapped all over, its head now tucked under its wing, sleeping fitfully.

This morning I turned on the light and opened the lid fully — it looked me in the eye and chirped vehemently.  I left some wet bread crumbs in a pile next to it – again, an idiotic thing to do.  I read a website that said to crush boiled eggwhite with milk and feed it to the bird.  So, so WRONG!  Eventually I read a wildlife rehabilitation site which said to place it back where I found it, except in the shelter of a bush.  I also found a site which could locate wildlife rehab specialists where one lives, which led to calling a (wacky but informative) local woman who told me to place it within ten feet of where I found it.  Mother birds can hear their young within a 2 block radius, and fly in to feed the fallen fledglings as they hobble about after failing flight.  This can go on for weeks!  Sadly, only 15% of the babies make it, and only 5% of the adults survive to the nesting, egg-laying stage.  It’s a very rough world for wildlife, and we complain!

After this little crisis – I hadn’t even had my coffee yet – I went to the garage to search for Tupperware.  A great cacophony came from the corner of Hubbicula’s workbench.  Lo and behold, two GIANT lizards were playing Hunger Games inside a minnow cage thrown in amongst various and sundry tools and fishing gear.  If it had been a rattlesnake, it would’ve struck me.  Now I’m thinking – did Hubbicula capture these for the nephews to play with and forgot about them?  Was he planning on using them for bait on some deep sea fishing trip I wasn’t aware of?  Am I losing my mind at Camp Cramer South?  I text him madly and he says, What?  Send picture!  So I send two, and he laughs!  Eventually I take the minnow cage out to the back (where I’ve isolated the cats so they can’t get my baby bird) and release the devils into the ice plant.  If the cats get them, oh well!

I spotted the little bird on my way to attending my Dad’s pre-chemo appointment with his oncologist, who I think is a jerk and isn’t caring for my dad properly.  Why my father insists on continuing with him is beyond me, and he’s afraid of insulting the oncologist by seeking a second opinion.  I can’t talk reason into my Dad, and he escapes by working incessantly on his book.  He wants to think about his cancer as little as possible.  Anyway, I looked at this bird and thought, it’s going to die in the heat, etc. and that’s just the cycle of life.  When I saw it sitting in roughly the same spot 8 hours later, I felt guilty.  As I moronically went about the motions of caring for the wild thing, I felt even guiltier for not researching its care right away, and more thoroughly.  I watched Downton Abbey instead.  This morning, completely overcome with guilt, I finally do the right thing.  Sort of.  I could take it to a vet or the SPCA.  Or I could let it succumb to its evolutionary fate.  Same with the lizards.  Not sure how they got themselves into the cage (Dumb and Dumber, I’ve decided to call them), but one of them would’ve eaten the other, or something will get them out in the wild.  It’s the life cycle, as Hubbicula likes to point out.

So this wildlife crises, it’s all about death.  My death, my dad’s, the path of loved ones around me who have serious health issues.  We always think we would hate to have a long debilitating illness and then die, but here we are, slogging it out to the point of debilitation.  Only then will we probably surrender, but not a moment sooner than the one in which we determine we can no longer squeeze a drop of joy in any form from our existence.  Any joy represents hope, even if it means smiling or having thirst slaked by crushed ice or feeling the touch of our beloved.  When the pain overtakes these minute sensations, it’s time to say Goodbye.  Eventually this stream of thought led me to thinking of Caroline Top, who would’ve turned 33 in June…

I think daily of the friends I’ve lost in this battle.  I truly hope there’s a meeting place on the other side, some Avalon or Elysian Fields.  Maybe it’s ridiculous, but what a strange reward to see their shiny faces after such a fight.  We deserve it.