The Mysterious Disappearance of KiKi the BirdPosted: December 17, 2011
Remember the bird I bought for Jerri about a week ago? Last night she called distraught. KiKi (the bird) was missing.
“He’s gone. I’ve looked everywhere. I put him in the aquarium before walking to the mission for dinner but I didn’t cover it with a blanket. When I got back, he wasn’t there. I’ve looked all over the apartment. But he’s not chirping. If he was here, I’d hear him.”
The bird had to be in her apartment. Where else could it be? I looked at the clock. 10:30 pm. It was too late to drive over and help her.
“The only thing I can think is that I only thought I put it in the aquarium. Maybe it was still on my shoulder when I went outside. Maybe it flew off between here and there and I didn’t realize it. If its outside, it will freeze tonight. I just wish I knew it wasn’t outside.”
My heart sank. For you and me, it is inconceivable that we could leave the house with a bird on our shoulder and not realize it. But for Jerri, I have to concede the possibility. I have wondered if there isn’t some cognitive impairment in addition to the bipolar. She has had significant brain trauma from ECT treatments, from a blow to the head in a car accident, and from seizures following the crash. Maybe there is residual damage.
Emotions bombarded me. Sadness that the bird was gone. Empathy because Jerri seemed genuinely surprised something had gone wrong. Irritation that I was right. She wasn’t ready for the responsibility. Anger at myself for not listening to my gut and giving her a gift card for groceries instead of the bird. Horror that poor KiKi would likely be some stray cat’s dinner. Frustration at Jerri’s disability. Dismay because Jerri was so excited and now look what has happened. Despondent because this is likely how it will always be with Jerri.
“Or maybe someone broke in and took it.”
“Why would anyone steal a bird, Jerri? Didn’t you lock your door? Is anything else missing?”
“He’s been really loud all day. Maybe they got sick of the chirping. Yeah, I locked my door but it’s easy to open with a credit card. I’ve done it myself a thousand times. Maybe they got the bird and threw it outside because of the noise.”
Again this wouldn’t happen in my world. But Jerri lives in a community for people recovering from mental illness. Anything seems plausible.
“I just wish I knew he wasn’t outside. I looked around and didn’t see him. He’ll die out there.”
I could tell she wanted me to drive over. She wouldn’t ask but I sensed she wanted me to. I couldn’t. Not true. I wouldn’t. It was late and I had an early meeting at work the next day. Maybe I could drive over at lunch tomorrow.
I tossed and turned all night. I prayed for the bird—seriously prayed. At least 5 times in the night, I woke and asked, “God, show her where it is. Don’t let it disappear without her knowing what happened. Let her find him. She has nothing. She is so lonely. Bring the bird back.”
In the morning, I was grouchy from lack of sleep and because I let this happen. I resolved not to buy a replacement. Jerri would be upset about that and if she really wanted another bird, she would find a way to get one without me.
I called her at noon to see if she wanted me to come over and look for KiKi. She didn’t answer. I said another prayer. Only God knew what had happened to that bird. I called her again at 2:00.
“I found it!” she was triumphant.
“You FOUND it?!! The bird?” Oh sweet, wonderful God! “Where was it?”
“In my drawer. I must have left the drawer open when I went to dinner. He snuggled down into my clothes and I didn’t see him. The light isn’t good in here and you know I can’t see well. I closed the drawer last night after looking for him. This morning, I could hear him chirping but couldn’t find him. I had an appointment with Bryce and when I got back I set my mind to tracking him down. And I found him!!”
I wanted to race out into the hallway and shout, “She found it! She FOUND it!” Instead I praised her. “Good for you, Jerri! I’m so glad.” We celebrated together. Such a small thing in my world but in Jerri’s, it is everything.