Starting with a joke because I’m still really heartbroken about it. I had a budgie but it died.
Just like Murray, my budgie died. Also we don’t really call them budgies around here IN AMERICA but I think it’s a fun little name so I’m going to go with it.
A few months ago I wrote a post that we got a parakeet. We did! His name is Elvis. A few weeks after we got him, we got another parakeet and named her Stevie. In a true expression of the curse of the second child, I did not write a post about Stevie. So I’m going to write one in her honor now.
From the moment Stevie came to live with us I felt worried about her. For some reason I was nervous she would die. I never talked about it but in my mind she was always on the edge of death and I was constantly googling what could possibly be wrong.
It could have all just been in my head, like 99% of my problems, but she didn’t seem as strong and robust as Elvis. I know she was probably smaller because she was a girl, but there was more to it. She stood in kind of a slouchy position all the time. She often looked like she was breathing heavy or struggling to catch her breath. She came to us with dirty-looking wings and a tail feather that was all shredded up. Birds are supposed to preen their own feathers, so it seemed like she wasn’t taking care of herself properly. And I’m not 100% sure but I think a budgie’s long ass tail feather is supposed to really help with their balance, etc.
The first thing I thought when I saw her was “I can’t wait until she gets settled in and starts to thrive.” Budgies can live 15 years in captivity, and I was looking forward to the long haul. I wanted to be able to look back to the day we got her and say, “Look how far she’s come!”
Ugh. This really crushes me. But I felt like she DID get better. Her feathers started to look cleaner, and they also grew longer. She was talkative and alert. She actually yelled a lot. She made an angry bird screech that I’ve only heard Elvis do once or twice when he’s like REALLY PISSED. I thought it was a good sign she was so pissed. She had a zest for life!
Stevie also seemed like she was getting close to saying words. All of the YouTube videos I watch of budgies, and I watch a lot, include budgies speaking. And it’s cute as hell. But part of their warmup to speaking is like…robot sounds? And Stevie made a lot of robot sounds.
She was the only budgie in the family making any effort to say human words. And it was awesome. Her brother/roommate/boyfriend would just stand there and stare judgmentally. As he continues to do to this very day.
Stevie and Elvis also had a very sweet relationship that made me smile. She would yell a lot but often they would snuggle up together, clean each other’s feathers, and eat and drink together at the same time. At night after we would “put them to bed,” aka put a blanket over their cage, which is so much like “tucking them in” it makes me want to sob, they would make soft happy noises at each other for like 30 minutes before they fell asleep.
It makes me really sad to think about it now. I hope Elvis isn’t lonely.
I probably think about this too much.
The morning things started to go downhill for Stevie, she seemed really sleepy. Out of it. She sat in the food bowl and looked tired. She moved to a perch and kept kind of falling asleep and then flapping when she started to fall off the perch and woke herself up. I reached in to have her hop on my finger to check on her and she didn’t put up a fight. She wasn’t really trained yet so she would usually hop away, but this time she just hopped on my finger and kind of relaxed. Something was wrong.
I left to go to a barre class and brunch because I may be a weird bird lady but I’m still basic AF. When I returned home, conditions hadn’t improved. I started to panic and desperately sought advice from the internet. I came across a very helpful site called Just Answer. It seems silly but they had live people to chat with and I was able to talk to a vet that could advise some things to do. When it got to a point that I couldn’t find an actual avian vet to go to, the chat vet found an emergency care place in Hoboken that had a vet with some experience with birds.
The vet visit was going to cost $150 or more and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to pay for it. Because I’m poor. But the chat vet also sent me information about veterinary care financing options. Like get it now pay for it later. I love to pay for it later! And get it now!
We loaded Stevie up and called an Uber. And went to Hoboken.
The vet was very kind. We had to drop Stevie there and leave her for a bit, because COVID, so we went to an outdoor bar. I was really upset. I drank a watermelon vodka drink. I felt more upset.
They gave Stevie oxygen and fluids, and recommended that she stay overnight. I thought that sounded fine until they said it would be $1300. There was no way. Vet care is so expensive. I won’t say that they took advantage of us or anything like that, I think this is just the way it is. They let us know that even if she stayed they couldn’t say it would even really help. They were very kind and helpful, and even gave her more fluids and a beak and talons trim, free of charge.
Not sure she really had “talons” but that’s the only word I can think of.
In the end they chalked it up to “respiratory distress.” Which a bird can fall victim to for no less than one million reasons. So we still have no idea why.
We took her home, to meet her fate. In the Uber on the way, she uttered her last little chirp of her short adorable life.
We kept her in a separate cage from Elvis in case it was contagious. She was covered for peace and darkness. She had food and water, and a heating pad to keep her warm. For little birdies it goes downhill fast and I felt like it was only a matter of time.
Stevie only lived another 24 hours or so. The end was hard. I cried a lot. I felt really helpless. I knew she was dying and I didn’t know if she was scared and wanted company or wanted to be alone. It’s not clear what a budgie would prefer. Even google didn’t really know.
After she died I kept crying. For at least a week. I felt really overwhelmingly, unreasonably, unbearably sad. I couldn’t stop crying.
It felt strange, to feel so sad about a pet. And not even one I’d known that long. I just couldn’t feel better about the fact that I’d let her down. That I couldn’t pay to try to make her better. That I didn’t get to see her live and grow and thrive. Or learn words.
She used to love her bowling toy. Elvis doesn’t really care about the bowling toy and it makes me so sad, seeing the bowling toy still and silent.
I had to do a lot of googling to find support for my unbearable sadness. As always I sought solace in commiseration. I tried to find other people that were uncontrollably sad about a pet’s death. And I did! The internet is a beautiful place. It helped me to heal. And I’m grateful for it every day. And I don’t care how bad some people think it is. It has everything we need.
Stevie currently is in our freezer. It’s a makeshift bird morgue. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. She’s wrapped in tissue paper, in a small cardboard Madison Reed box, also wrapped in plastic. I’m 80% sure it’s perfectly sanitary. She’s awaiting an epic Viking funeral, when we find the right place.
I just wanted to share all of that, to commemorate her. Thanks for reading. I love you little Stevie, Rest In Peace.