This morning was a dark and cloud-filled morning. The wind was whistling against my apartment’s outer wall and I woke up at least once to some rain beating against the window. An ominous warning, to be sure. As I got up and got ready for the day, I uncovered my cockatiel’s cage and found her dead at the bottom. Bau Bau had been having some health issues prior, so it wasn’t a complete surprise, but I felt a lot of emotion when I realized what I was looking at.

As I rode my bike into work, I thought about all the history that we had shared. My friend Sophia gave her to me while I was attending university. At first, Bau Bau and I had a little rocky relationship while we learned to get along, but soon, she would jump right onto my hand and sit on my shoulder while I was home. She had this cute little way of turning her head one hundred and eighty degrees while looking at me out of one of her eyes. I loved to stroke her crest feathers and she always loved that too. She would nuzzle so gently up against my chin and make little soft noises while I went about my business at home.

Bau Bau used to have this habit of sneaking out of her cage. I’m still not sure how she did it, but one night, I woke up in the middle of the night to some “thing” crawling on my shoulder. I got scared and knocked that thing into the the air. Turns out, it was my lovely little bird that I had hit. For two or three weeks afterwards, she was scared of me and really seemed to act like she was mad. I remember I got her out of her cage at one point, and she flew straight to my sister’s shoulder and seemed to be saying, “ha” to me. I felt so horrible about it, but she eventually forgot or forgave me, and our relationship went back to normal. Eventually, she stopped breaking out of her cage too, which I’m very grateful for.

My roommate Adam had a cat named Layla. Layla was a little timid, but was still a cat. She would sit for a very long time watching Bau Bau play at our old apartment. Then, every once in a while, she would try to get Bau Bau. However, Bau Bau was always wary and would fly straight to me, or would turn and face Layla. Layla would either stop or run away in the face of the fierce snapping beak and giant flapping wings of Bau Bau. It was certainly an uneasy situation, but it never got out of hand.

I remember all the mornings when I lived on Dexter Ave where she would wake me up. The sunlight would stream through the east-facing window of my bedroom, and she would start to sing softly. Then, as the sun kept rising, she would get a little louder until I got up and wished her good morning. Some mornings, I would be mad at her for waking me up, but looking back on it now, those memories are showered in a golden hue.

Bau Bau taught me a lot about how to love. She required a lot of patience to train. She could be really ornery sometimes without any known reason at all. Sometimes, she would sit in her cage and scream at me if she wanted me to play with her some more. Other times, she would leave droppings on my favorite shirt. She taught me that loving one of God’s creatures can be hard, but at the same time, it can be very rewarding in those moments of joy when she would gently whistle in my ear or try to groom my hair. It’s kind of funny to me that a simple creature could teach me so much and also fill a piece of my heart in a way that no other creature has.

She was with me through a lot of life changes, including multiple moves, relationships, and job changes. She was always there wanting to play with me every day when I got home. It seems strange to think that she won’t be there when I get home tonight. I feel bad for the times I felt too busy to play with her more. I also feel like I am going to miss her for a very long time to come.