Content warning: This post mentions the passing of a pet.

My son didn't come downstairs at the regular time yesterday. When he did, he was holding the body of his parakeet, Treelo, who passed while my son slept.

Tough day. Treelo's passing was unexpected and sudden. He'd seen a veterinarian for a small wound on his leg a few weeks ago, gotten some antibiotics and pain medication; he'd seemingly recovered fully in the time since. We don't think that was the cause. We'll likely never know the cause. My son is chalking it up to old age.

I found a shady spot in our yard and offered what eulogy I could as we laid my son's friend to rest. He's already missed, and not just by my son; I loved that bird, too. I sat with Treelo, keeping him calm while my son cleaned his cage. We connected while listening to Prince and the Jackson Five, both of us bopping our heads to the music. He was my son's friend first and foremost, and he was my friend, too.

I believe we plan to go to a pet store today to look at guinea pig supplies, with the goal of having a new pet soon.

My son admitted that he felt bad for wanting another pet so soon after losing Treelo. I think I managed the good dad response, because I understood two things:

  • If he had a choice, we wouldn't even be having the conversation. Treelo would still be chirping away, bopping his little parakeet head to music. My son didn't want or ask to be in that moment; it simply happened. It didn't come from a lack of care; he never neglected Treelo; some things are out of our hands.
  • Like so many people, having a silly little animal friend provided both joy and responsibility on rough days. Some folks connect with dogs and cats; he connects with birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, and other small creatures with big personalities; that connection and obligation is a very real reason for him to get out of bed on days where "bad brain" offers no others. My son's definitely not alone in those feelings, and no one should feel guilt for adopting and caring for an animal companion.

My son needs another funny animal friend to add a bright spot to his dark days? His mom & I will make it happen. We've seen the attention and care he gives his pets. We've seen the sparks of joy and pride they give him in return. It's an honest trade, love for love.