The end of the working day, home at last. I rang the doorbell, Jack, my wife, buzzed me in. I gently shouldered the outside door open and stepped inside the entrance hall; it was a wonderful feeling to leave the cold winter and the hum and din of traffic behind, it felt as if I was stepping from one world into another. At the top of the first flight of stairs, holding the front door of our flat open stood Jack, the light behind her silhouetted her image. That image will stay with me forever; it was an image that radiated warmth and welcome.
Jack watched me climb the dozen or so stairs until I was close enough for her to speak without raising her voice.
“What you got there, sweetheart?” She inquired, referring to the semi-organised assortment of clothes that I was carrying.
“It’s a Gull, a Herring Gull, and it looks as though he needs a little care and attention.”
“Bring him in, let’s have a look at him.”
Still holding the door open, Jack made room for me to pass. Our eyes met, but we didn’t speak, the expressions of concern etched on our faces spoke volumes.
I placed the make-shift bird nest down onto the carpet, in a place where it wasn’t going to get trodden on or accidentally kicked.
Jack, now kneeling in front of Sid’s hastily constructed recovery nest, started to unravel it carefully. Leaning over the arm of the sofa, I watched as Jack gently and caringly peeled back the last piece of the jumper, a sleeve, revealing Sid.
Sid looked the same as he did when last I saw him as if he’d fallen asleep. As if he was dead.
“It’s not looking good, sweetheart. Get me a cup of lukewarm sugar water and a deep spoon, please.” Said Jack.
I did as requested and then watched as Jack dripped a few drops of the sugar water onto Sid’s pink pointed tongue. It was heart-wrenching to see the feeble desperation with which he attempted to lap at the warm, sweet liquid.
Jack changed Sid’s bedding, making sure that he was clean and dry, then every hour she moistened inside of his beak with warm sugar water.
We spent the evening chatting about the moral issues involved with my actions, of which, there were many. The main concern was, were we prolonging the bird’s suffering. No, we weren’t, was the decisive answer. Sid was in that lovely place between life and death; he was beyond feeling any pain, nor did he care if he lived or died. How do I know? Because I’ve been in that beautiful warm place that I now call death’s waiting room! The natural will to survive, to hang onto that last remaining thread of life was now his only hope. Playing God is a role that I wouldn’t put on anyone intentionally or otherwise, but, as we all know, that time eventually comes and confronts us head-on, shredding our principles to pieces, and pulling our emotions from pillar to post. Are we meant to turn our heads, pretend we’ve not noticed, and shy away from deciding to help the helpless, whether it be a bird, dog or human-being? The long and short of the situation is that I interfered with nature; I played God. The consequences of which is, that Sid is now with us. We must give him every chance to live.
Days past, how many, I can’t remember, Sid’s condition remained the same, but we continued the routine of trickling droplets of warm sugar water onto his tongue. Every morning I expected the worse, the inevitable, to discover that that last thread had snapped. But no, his little tongue kept searching out the offered water, his swallowing was getting stronger. And then, one evening, entirely by accident, a small miracle happened!
We were using a small, blue plastic measuring spoon to transfer water from the glass to Sid’s beak. It was an elongated oval shape and held a tablespoon of liquid. Well, Jack held the spoon while I used my thumbnail to open Sid’s beak, but I accidentally dunked the tip of the beak into the water. What happened next amazed us both; there was a visible ripple on the surface of the water, Sid was drinking!
Sid was still panned out, his neck muscles too weak to support his head, which was rested against a fluffy towel.
Jack and I watched as Sid drank, it was a heartwarming moment, that’s for sure. We looked at each others smiling faces; our beaming smiles were broad, broad enough to get crumbs in our ears, broad as a Chesire Cats. Still smiling I looked down at Sid, it looked as though he was sleep drinking; then the drinking stopped, stilling the water’s surface and smoothing the snow-white feathers of Sid’s throat that had moved with each gulp.
The smiles vanished from our faces; Jack removed the tip of Sid’s beak from the spoon; then straightening her back, and looked at me. I looked at her, then we both looked at Sid. Experiencing and sharing the same emotions as each other, we both moistened our eyes with blinks, that prevented the brimming tears from escaping down our cheeks.
Before Jack could fold the towel over Sid’s body, the smiles returned to our faces. I thought that the corners of my mouth were going to meet on the back of my head. Sid had opened his eyes!
High fives didn’t exist back then but had they have done; I’m pretty sure the clap of our meeting palms would have resonated for miles around.
Below are a few recent photos of Jack, with little Smudge, and Kracker her favourite horse.
Jack, with her little pal Smudge
Jack, doing a butterfly count
Jack, saddling Kracker up, ready for a plod
Part Three of Sid The Seagull will be available soon, stay tuned. Bye for now.
Categories: Burning the Midnight Oil