There's nothing more terrible than finding the lifeless body of something - someone - you love.
Frankie didn't meet my car when TG and I pulled up this afternoon, but I thought I heard him answer from the woods when I called his name. I went down to the house, greeted the dogs, gave them treats and returned to the road to give Frankie some seed, but he was still no where in sight.
It wasn't until I returned to the porch that I spotted him lying still between the dogs' beds, his beautiful feathers barely ruffled. That's when I started screaming.
Please don't judge me. Don't tell me to be grateful it wasn't one of my kids or Tom or my parents or a sibling. I realize it's not the same pain or loss I would feel in those circumstances, but this pain is still real. I loved that funny little bird.
I heard TG come out of the house, felt her arms around me, felt her crying with me. I screamed at the dogs, threw the pink scoop full of seed toward Max as he slunk off the other end of the porch. Belle sat at a distance watching, then scooted down the hill to the doghouse when I pointed at Frankie and yelled at her.
I sat on the swing near him, sobbing, feeling guilty. I'm sure we did something wrong... I realize dogs are just dogs, and Belle's just a puppy. There were no marks on Frankie. No blood. I suspect they were just playing, treating him the way they treat each other. He acted like one of the dogs most of the time, after all. But I'm sure there was something we should have done to train them better... I'm just not sure what. And now it's too late.
I remembered kneeling down beside him at eye level this morning, taking a few minutes to just chat for a bit up by the truck where he's been hanging out lately. I told him I missed seeing him outside the windows and going for walks with us. He came close and chirped back... I knew he was lonely. I vowed to stop and chat with him every day...
I'm glad I have that memory, and not the regret of a good intention never fulfilled.
Tom soon arrived home and did his share of cursing at the dogs. I knelt beside Frankie, finally petting him as I longed to do when he was alive, but wishing with all my heart he was still able to duck away from my outstretched hand. TG brought out a pretty red plastic bag and I gently lifted him and tucked him inside.
We buried him in a small grave next to Charly. There will be another small cross in the ground soon, reminding us of that little character who filled our lives with so much laughter and companionship these past two years.
The woods will be so quiet, the porch so empty, all hope of seeing his funny face peering in at me gone now. How did a little beady-eyed creature so completely capture my heart? Thank you for choosing us, for protecting us, for entertaining us, Frankie. I'm so sorry we let you down.
The last Frankie pictures...