Every once in a while, as I sleep, a pigeon flies through the window in my dreams. Last night was no exception.
It is a the symbol of a lesson. It is a reminder of a traumatic moment in time, that will never leave my memory. I am not a highly spiritual person, yet the pigeon urges me to explore spiritual matters more closely.
I am the witness of the murder of an innocent bird. There was nothing I could do, but mourn it’s passing and hope it didn’t have babies to feed.
We were building our dream home and often stopped by, as it was in various progressions. From the day they broke ground, until the very last day, when our appliances arrived, and we did the walkthrough, my partner and I would stop by, just to see what work they did that day. It was an exciting time for both of us-especially for me, as I never built/designed a home before.
On a chilly Sunday evening, we parked outside the house, hoping that they had started on the basement structure. The construction company had been there all day, and the basement portion was the next big project to complete. They still had another month or so to completion day, and the excitement built in us.
As we entered the house, a light was glowing in the basement. One of the crew had left their light flickering, dangling from a long cord over the rafters. As we stepped down the wooden stairs, we could hear a soft cooing noise within the house.
“Do you hear that?” my partner whispered, sounding frantic and raspy, “there are pigeons in here!”
As we went further into the basement, the light softly glowing, the sound grew slightly louder. Annoyed, my boyfriend scanned the rafters, the walls and the boards of the house, trying to find the source of the cooing. I helped him look, hoping to catch a glimpse of the bird, or birds. I didn’t see a problem with them being in the house, as long as they didn’t leave a mess or damage.
I heard a fluttering of wings, and spied the two birds, in the newly built wooden planks of the basement ceiling. I whispered, “there they are”, as I pointed toward their spot. I was half smiling, seeing their grey heads, and eyes, under the glow of the construction light. I have a slight phobia of birds, but they were far enough way that I didn’t feel threatened.
“Grab me a stick, or a board,” my guy muttered, trying to keep calm. I did as he asked, and handed him a loose piece of wood that the workers had left on the floor.
Thinking he was going to simply shoo them out of the house, I stood behind him and watched. He warned me to stand back, so that he didn’t accidentally hit me with the log piece of wood, and before I knew it, he was swinging it hard, as if it was a baseball bat.
He knocked one of the unsuspecting birds to the ground, while the other flew out an unfinished, open window.
The dazed bird on the wood floor lay still and stunned by the blow. Without any warning, whatsoever, my partner picked up the bird, and with his bare hands, wrung its neck. Blood squirted out of its snapped neck, coating his hands and splattering on his light-colored shirt and jacket.
I stood, paralyzed in shock.
“Fucking flying rat!” he shouted, as he threw the motionless animal out the window the other bird had escaped through. “I hope the rest of the pigeons see it and know better than to come into this house again.” He scanned the room, looking for something to wipe the blood off of his hands, opting to wait until we got back into his truck, where a box of tissues was on the back seat.
The bird was nothing more than a pest. A nuisance had entered his space and he felt that he needed to delete its life.
The pigeon was a pain in his ass, and he had every right to kill it, because it was causing an inconvenience in his life.
The pigeon didn’t deserve to live, because it was on his property, potentially causing damage and mess.
He believed it was his RIGHT to remove a living being from this earth because it caused him annoyance.
While wringing the bird’s neck, he felt as though he was protecting me, and possibly even impressing me with his manliness, and his strength.
Rage filled him, as the thought of a creature living in the house without permission, was worth killing with his bare hands.
So many emotions crippled me, for more than a few moments, and all I could do was cry.
I cried because the bird could have been a mother with babies to feed.
I cried because the pigeon was alive, minding its own business, cooing quietly one minute, and killed the next.
I cried because I was the one who found the stick, that would knock it to the floor, arming its murderer.
I feared the man I loved because I saw a side of him that I never thought was part of him.
The sound of the bird’s neck snapping and the sight of its blood, while it took its last breath, scared the hell out of me, and made me sob. I mourned the damn bird.
The realization that my partner could take a life, so quickly, while enraged made me fear my own life. I wanted to believe I was safe, but after witnessing such a graphic moment, and the look in his eyes, I suddenly felt unsafe.
I was reminded that I am guilty of killing spiders, mosquitoes and various insects in my life, and it made me wonder if I was just as murderous. Then I realized that he would have felt the heart of the bird in his hands, as it beat, and then stopped. The thought of this still haunts me.
As I sobbed, he laughed at me and said, “oh my god. It’s just a pigeon. Why are you so upset?” This was an epiphany that he didn’t understand my compassion or empathy. He didn’t know my heart, and that made me sad.
The gruesome way that he “disposed of the body” to teach other pigeons a lesson, made me shudder. That bird, in my mind, deserved more respect than that, for losing its innocent life. Even though it may have been in a place where it didn’t belong, it didn’t deserve to die. The event made me think of humanity as a whole and reminded me that I have been in many places I never belonged over the years. Many people have gone “where they don’t belong”. Does this mean they don’t deserve to live?
The ordeal of the murder of this innocent animal made me question more than I was ready to, at the time.
We were to begin a NEW LIFE in the house we were anxiously watching grow into fruition, as I watched a life end, by my life partner’s bare hands. It seemed symbolically ironic to me.
I lived in that house with him for just over 3 years. That pigeon haunts me to this day. I don’t often “think” about its sudden death, yet it comes to me while I try and sleep.
When I am awoken, I wonder if its the pigeon that was killed that is in my dreams, or a sibling of the bird, coming back to remind me of the lessons I learned on that day. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which bird it is.
I have learned, since then, to follow my gut and my heart. I was with someone who I knew I couldn’t trust with my emotions, and this event was a solid reminder of this.
Another lesson I learned, is that many human beings don’t take the lives of other beings seriously enough. We are all here to share the planet. Perhaps it was we, who encroached on an innocent bird’s peace of land, and not vice versa.
Learning that my partner was capable of snuffing out a creature, taking it’s literal life in his hands, and ending it, reminded me of his rage. It reminded me how his values of life, entitlement, and compassion were not similar to mine, in the least. Our hearts were never designed the same.
Watching the bird being killed, without a moment of hesitation, told me that my partner has no sense of consequence. His inability to take a moment to think before his reaction, quite frankly, scared me to the point of wondering what he was capable of if I angered him. For a few fleeting moments, I wondered if he would snap my neck, for enraging him, if he was having a bad day.
That day will forever haunt me and was partially why I chose to leave the relationship after 9 years.
Although the above lessons were learned, the hardest lesson was this:
Sometimes hearts don’t jive. You cannot force hearts that speak completely different languages to be able to communicate. Further to this, people who are parents, versus people who aren’t, see life through a different lens. While I was concerned if the poor bird had babies to feed, he never considered the consequences of potentially taking away a father or mother from other beings. There are two types of people in the world- those who believe that we all share this world, and those who believe that they are superior enough to decide what lives and what dies. Chances are, if you are a couple with opposing ideas of life, you will not succeed at living together.
Killing an innocent bird in the way he did, may not make him a horrible person, or even heartless. It merely verified that our hearts don’t jive, and over time, the realization became clearer in other ways. And that’s okay.
Thank you pigeon, for being a valuable being in my life, and reminding me who I am, and what my heart is made of. Thank you for returning in my dreams and verifying that walking away from him was not just the best choice, it was the only choice.
Thank you, sweet bird, for giving up your life, and helping me to save my own.