My husband went downstairs first this morning, and I am so glad he did.
The cat was scratching at the back door, so my husband obliged by opening it. The cat obliged by presenting him with a small gift.
Flutter, flutter, flap. The gift wasn’t dead yet.
By the time I arrived at the scene of the crime, feathers were strewn along the hallway. The window was smeared with blood, and the dove rested in the cat’s food dish. (This last part was my husband’s idea. He wanted to imprint a ‘you kill it, you eat it’ ethic on our little carnivorous beast. It didn’t work.)
Our poor innocent adorable pigtailed preschoolers were horrified… oh wait, I mean… thrilled. Thrilled. It was the most exciting thing to happen to them since one of our chickens got attacked by a peregrine falcon.
Daddy, can I pick it up? Daddy, can I have a bag to collect the feathers? Daddy, can we wake up the boys? Daddy, can you lift me up so I can see the blood?
(Notice how smart they are… they know which parent will say yes.)
The funeral was led by our five year old daughter. The eight of us (my family plus our housemates) stood around a small hole and thanked God for making this particular bird. We said that we were sad that it was dead, and the boys both said that they wished the cat hadn’t killed it (the cat was not present to express remorse). Our daughter prayed and we sang her two favorite songs, “You Are my Hiding Place” and “Oh, Freedom.” Then our four year old gravedigger covered the lost dove with dirt, and the grown-ups turned to walk away.
But we weren’t done yet.
“And now,” my daughter announced, “we will all lay on the ground.”
“Um… why’s that honey?”
“We will all lay on the ground and look up at the birds that are flying. We need to remember that lots of the birds are still alive.”
We need to remember that lots of birds are still alive.
So we all lay down, all eight of us in a row. We lay in the grass and looked to the sky. She was right. There were a lot of birds up there.
And we remembered.