2019-03-16 - 8:17 a.m.
My heart is broken. Courtney passed away last night a few minutes after six. Despite his extreme old age, it seemed sudden, because he had been having a pretty good day up until a short time before when he cried out. For the first time in his long life, the alertness seemed lost in his eyes, and he seemed afraid until I wrapped him close to hold him against my heart. The warmth and the heartbeat seemed to give him peace. A short time later, he closed his eyes for the last time, and I felt his spirit leave.
He was hatched in my home on April 16, 1990, so he passed at age 28 years and 334 days (11 months). In other words, he has been with me for the entire second half of my life. As far as I know, he lived longer than any other member of his species. As he grew more fragile in his last few weeks of life, I rushed my peach-fronted conure book to completion, so that he would be sitting at my side serving as my inspiration while I worked, for I knew I would never have the heart to write it afterward.
Boobear, the 20-year-old cockatiel who became his buddy late in life, also seemed aware that time was growing short. Over the few last days, instead of attempting to make Courtney play on their shared playpen, Boobear seemed happy to sit and nap. On Friday afternoon, their last play date last was an hour-long nap from around 3:45 to 4:45. Although Boobear normally likes to call attention to himself, he seemed to respect Courtney's desire for peace and quiet.
Although his arthritis visibly bothered him on damp days (and Friday was a very damp day), Courtney was determined, alert, and aware until that last terrible half hour. He scrambled into his window to watch for cats and scold the local blue jays. The day before he passed, he took a long soaking bath and then spread himself under the heat lamp to fluff out his feathers. When he stumbled, an increasingly common occurrence, he was still able to grip my fingers and ride back up to his chosen perch.
This morning, very early, above Courtney's grave, a migrating catbird paused to sing song after song, of bird after bird, a great summing up of all the songs he has met on his long journey. Courtney watched over his aviary for so long, for so many years. Even after his mate passed at age 27, he continued to watch out for me. Now his spirit is free to fly on his own long journey.
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