“It’s a mouse!” Tina says sadly, pointing to a soft little gray object, clearly dead, under the old spruce tree. Her sorrow deepens when I point out that it’s not a mouse, it’s a bird.
I tell her I’m glad it’s not hurting now, and suggest we focus our efforts on the living birds by filling up the bird feeder.
But Tina’s grief is too fresh. She flips the little creature over with a twig, hoping to discover the cause of death, but we don’t see any wounds.
Suddenly she has an idea that makes her jump with joy. “We’ll bury it!” she announces. “Then God will take it to Heaven!”
Questionable theology, but this is not the time to question it.
After filling the bird feeder, Tina takes the bird to the back yard on the blade of a shovel and proceeds to dig a hole in Maria’s lawn. I suggest the garden would be better, and select a spot by the fence under an ornamental bush.
Now we have fun, running back and forth with dead leaves and twigs to cover the bird. Tina finds relief from sorrow in her work, and comfort in her belief that the little one is going to Heaven.
As we leave the funeral plot, I give thanks for the beautiful pink sky over the grave. Tina tells me that the bird’s body will stay in the ground even when the bird goes to Heaven, a belief that will serve her well if the wind uncovers the body.
Once in the house, she makes two birds out of construction paper. We decorate them with pictures of the sun, birds and trees, and Tina flies her picture around the room. I take mine home with instructions to bring it back every time I come.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”
Matthew 10: 29 (New International Version ©1984)