One hot summer day at work a client I had known for a few years came to my office sobbing. Kelly could barely breath through her crying to tell me she found a baby bird that had fallen from its nest. It was dying. Kelly said she found it in the parking lot struggling to breathe, vomit coming out of its mouth, and with no feathers to protect its fragile body its skin was burning under the hot sun. I immediately understood Kelly’s panic. But when she said she had spent the last hour crouched over the bird sobbing and saying she felt hopeless I knew I had to do something. There was no way Kelly (or I) could concentrate on anything until the situation was resolved. And so, armed with gloves, and a roll of paper towels, Kelly with her friend and I went to find the baby bird.
I was not prepared for what I saw. Dying and in agony, the little naked skinny bird lie gasping on the steaming black pavement. Panic started to creep into my head. It was so innocent, and helpless, it shouldn’t be in pain. It’s just an infant and its life was already over.
As the three of us stood over the poor thing, I knew I had to be the one to kill it. So many thoughts ran through my mind…where should I do it? How should I do it? How will this effect these two clients standing here? What will my boss say? Will I get in trouble?
I decided to do it with as much dignity as could be afforded a dying bird. I picked it up and gently wrapped it in the paper towels, and carried it to the corner of our large beautiful campus. We had privacy there. I let Kelly pick the tree we should bury the bird under. She scanned the grove carefully and chose an old majestic oak tree. I found a stick near by and started to dig a hole by the roots. We took turns. Now it was time to end the poor things misery. Panic again. I didn’t bring anything to kill it with. I looked around for something hard, I wanted to kill it with one stroke. The last thing I want to do is cause it more suffering with two clients watching. Luckily I found a brick near by. Before I started I told the girls they didn’t need to stay for this, they could go back to the main building. But they both wanted to stay… to see it finished. Kelly said a few words to the bird, about how sorry she was that it had to suffer like that. When she was done I wrapped the bird in the paper towels so we wouldn’t see anything. I placed it on the root of the tree, I tried not to think about its lumpy warm body in my hand, as the nausea started to build in my stomach I raised my hand and… BAM! I smashed its head in with a brick.
I was expecting them to cry, but instead we all breathed a sigh of relief. It was done. The baby bird wasn’t suffering anymore. And neither were we. I laid it in its little grave and we each took turns covering it with dirt.
We were quiet as we walked back to the main building. Knowing we would always remember the day we became grave diggers.