He passed away two weeks ago.
Toni. Father to an 11-year-old girl who adored him, life partner to one of my oldest pals.
Talking to my friend on the phone, she sounded confused, told me not to bother coming into town.
I waited. Called her a week later. She told me they’d “be fine”. “Do what you wanna do”, she said.
I waited some more. Gave it one more week and called again. “The weekends are tough”, she allowed, “and I need a babysitter for a couple of days”.
So I came.
His coat still hangs in the front hallway.
His things are everywhere around the house, as if he’s due back tonight.
I am sleeping in the front room where he kept his bird collection – they are still all here, and the lamp on a timer goes off at 5:36 every morning, prompting all the birds to begin singing at once a foot away from my ear.
His daughter wants to keep all the birds, of course, but mom is not so sure how to take care of all of them. Which ones get which food, how much water.
Especially as now the orange one has had a baby, and sits warming the baby all day long.
Underneath is a tiny little pulsating body, just beginning to sprout wings.