This week turned out to be a tough week. On Wednesday afternoon a treasured pet passed away in a rather traumatic freak accident – traumatic to our dear Coco, who really did suffer in his last moments, and to myself and my teenage son, who tried our very best to save him but were sadly unable to do anything to alter the outcome. I’m not going to dwell on the actual death here, it haunts me enough as it is. The combination of such a horrible thing happening with the loss of such a vibrant little presence has left me bereft and floundering. I’ve had pets pass away before and been deeply affected every time, but Coco was our first inside pet, and it seems different. I feel his absence, constantly, the house is so quiet and I had gotten used to his constant chatter.
Coco was a bird. A small Conure who was a vibrant green, blue and red. What he lacked in size he made up for in personality. He was such a clever little mimic, mastering words and saying them within the correct context. He could also call like a cockatoo and a galah, mimicking the birds from outside. He loved fruit, particularly berries and melon, and licking the milk off of cornflakes, and boy did he love to drink apricot nectar. He would madly chase around a rattling cat ball, fight with his toys, and he adored having a shower. His presence was a constant, calling and chattering each time the front door opened, each time the kettle was boiled, each time I went to prepare the dog’s food. He was only ever really quiet when he was asleep. He absolutely loved being scratched and petted. He was a people bird, happiest when he was on a shoulder and sharing your bird friendly food.
I was never a bird person, to be honest. I tried hard to discourage my son from getting a bird, but he was adamant and demonstrated his interest in birds well enough that in the end I gave in. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t like birds, I love them, out in the wild, flying free, but I have been afraid of birds for my whole life, the legacy of being attacked by my nanna’s cockatoo at a young age. The flapping was enough to make me prickle with sweat. But Coco cured me of this fear, with his big chirpy voice and his even bigger sassy attitude. In just over a year, I came to adore that little creature.
It’s really not the size of the pet, or the type of animal that defines the degree of loss. It’s the impact that pet has made on your life, the space you’ve given over to it within your heart. Coco’s death has devastated me. Part of this is tied to not being able to save him for my son, that helplessness that exists when you can’t spare your child from pain and loss. The other part is a lot simpler: I just miss Coco. I loved him, and now he’s gone. And getting over that is going to take some time. When you’ve invested time and energy into an animal, been its primary carer and the recipient of its affection for any length of time, it doesn’t matter how great or small that pet was, the loss is still profound.
Despite the grief I’m feeling now, knowing Coco was worth it. Every second of it. And I know that I will always remember and forever miss this beautiful little bird who cured my lifelong fear of feathers and beaks.