A little more than two years ago, my husband’s uncle Don passed away and left his parakeet orphaned. Don’s neighbors and friends weren’t able to take the parakeet, so we drove the little guy seven hours north from Long Beach, California, to live with us in northern California. No one knew the parakeet’s name or age, but we learned from the Internet that a blue beak meant he was male. We named him Kai Loa: kahakai means beach in Hawaiian, and loa means long.
Parakeets are social birds, so we decided the best place for Kai’s cage was in our family room, the social hub of our home. Since parakeets also like to be the loudest thing in the room, we sometimes moved Kai’s cage to the guest bathroom in order to hear our TV. Kai sang at the top of his lungs when he heard me practicing hula, and he alerted whenever he heard our dog run by.
Recently Kai stopped singing and vocalizing. We booked the first available appointment for Kai to see a bird vet recommended by our dog vet. After poking around the Internet, we guessed that Kai had a respiratory and throat infection that is common in parakeets.
Yesterday I had a vision: Kai was lying on his side on the floor of his cage. I immediately went to his cage and found him sitting on the floor, a sign that he was too weak to balance himself on his perches. It took some time, but Kai eventually mustered up the energy to climb back on his perches.
Today I saw Kai hobbling around the floor of his cage, and I hoped he would manage to climb back up again. It pained me to see him getting weaker, and I knew it was time to pick him up.
As Kai sat in my cupped hands, his breathing very shallow, he half-opened his eyes a few times. I whispered to him and lightly stroked his back. It takes a lot of effort to stroke a parakeet gently. This went on for some time, but just when I thought his breathing was slowing down, he opened his eyes, raised his head, and tried to spread his wings. “Wow,” I thought, “Kai is making a comeback!” But just as suddenly, Kai slumped over onto his side and stopped breathing.
Parakeets don’t garner the type of sentiment that dogs and cats do, but Kai was the only other living thing in Don’s home. Kai was loved by a human being. This has to count for something. Being loved gives us value. Giving love gives us value.
They say all dogs go to heaven. I hope parakeets do, too, and that Kai and Don are together again.
©Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2016.