How a Husband Handles Heartbreak


I spend a lot of time telling stories about my husband that make people laugh. Fortunately, he’s fine with it. In fact, he kind of loves being “internet famous.” But this man is so much more than a laugh factory.

When Hurley nabbed a baby bird in our back yard last month, I figured the poor thing was dead. I shooed the dog away and ran back inside for some shoes and my glasses. With the ability to see properly, I could tell the little guy was probably injured, but I didn’t know how much. He could still hop around the yard, but the tree branches were out of his reach. Still, he was safe enough without the dog menacing his every move, so I left him to his parents.

Later, I ran to the car to grab something and found the little guy just underneath the driver’s side door. He didn’t move a muscle while I was there, so I left him again. The next time I let the dog out, I’d nearly forgotten the tiny bird. Hurley had not. Within moments, he was chasing the poor thing around the yard.

Liam and I decided to act. We snatched the dog back and put him inside the house. Then we set up a makeshift nest in the bottom of a cooler. The walls were too high for the bird to get out, which was reassurance for us that he wouldn’t inadvertently jump to his death on the hard ground or inside my dog’s mouth.

I visited the Walden’s Puddle website (a wildlife rescue near Nashville) and learned how to care for the injured bird until we could get an appointment to turn him over to smarter and more experienced people. Every hour, for twelve hours, I hand-fed the bird mushy cat food by tweezers.

When I woke the next morning, I ran out to check on the bird first thing. Liam wasn’t far behind. My heart skipped a beat when the bird jumped up to greet us—or probably to escape, but I’m sentimental. Liam brought out the cat food mush and herded Hurley into the yard so I could get the bird fed. I couldn’t believe he’d made it through the night! We just had to keep him alive until 4:30 for our appointment with Walden’s Puddle.

Every hour, I fed the bird, but then we had to leave him alone for a bit. We timed our trip to the wildlife sanctuary perfectly. When I rushed through the house to grab the cooler for our trip, I was so excited that we’d saved this bird. Until I reached the cooler and found that our tiny new friend had slipped away while we weren’t looking.

His little body lay limp on the nest we’d made, his bright eyes once filled with trust now glazed. Just thirty minutes away from salvation, he’d given up. He didn’t know, of course, that we were working hard to keep him alive so that he could be healed at the hands of wildlife experts.

The first tears slipped out as I ran back to tell Liam we’d lost the bird. I expected him to think I was silly for crying. It was just a bird, right? Instead, that funny man of mine took my hand and led me back to the cooler where we stood in silence for just a few moments.

Then he grabbed a shovel and dug a small grave next to Rosie, and we laid the little guy to rest. As I cried, Liam just held me. Before we walked away, he said a short prayer. That bird wasn’t our pet and never could have been, but Liam gave him a final resting place of honor. And he’d never admit it, but I saw him shed a tear or two, as well.

And that’s how a good, loving, respectful husband handles heartbreak.

I wrote this just after we lost our little friend but waited until now to post for reasons I can’t really explain. Mostly, I couldn’t proofread without crying. :-\

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