A winter avian death

What do you do when your beloved pet parakeet dies, and it's 20 below outside? Answer: Stick him in the freezer.

This is what we did a few Februaries ago when my then seven-year old son found a barely breathing "Blue" on the floor of his cage. Carefully, my son picked him up and held him in his cupped hands. Within an hour, Blue was dead. During the ensuing hours, my son continued to hold him, as he walked around the house. Finally, he placed Blue in a shoebox and stowed it under his bed.

A day passed, and I didn't know what to do. Blue deserved a proper ceremony and grave, but there was at least a meter of snow covering the frozen ground outside. I couldn't bear the idea of handing the box to the town recycling and animal carcass man, like I had done with Peter rabbit.

The next day, I recounted my story to girlfriends over coffee, after which one Canadian joked: "Stick him in the freezer."

So, that's what I did when I got home.

Three months later on one glorious May evening, I made the following announcement: "Today's the perfect day to bury Blue."

The children and I dug the grave, and once Blue's shoebox was in the ground and covered with dirt, I read the pet burial prayers I had found on the internet, and my daughter placed a bouquet of Forget-me-nots on the little mound. She painted a rock with a blue cross and the words "RIP Blue" and used smaller rocks to make a crown around the grave. We then transplanted more wildflowers onto the grave. To complete the ceremony, my son played a song on his trumpet.

As the sun dipped behind the mountains in a golden glow, my children frolicked in the garden. It really felt as if Blue had finally gone to heaven.