Tag Archives: Grief

Farewell, Kirby, Old Friend

The Best Fish Ever: Kirby the Plecostomus
~2000 – 28 July 2020

My daughter was in high school when we brought home a tiny baby Plecostomus for our tank. We didn’t record the exact date, because our luck with Plecos to that point was such that we expected this one to live for maybe a year … two at the most.

Twenty years later, Kirby had grown to about ten inches in length, and was still going strong. Yesterday, he was suctioning his way across the front of the aquarium. I stopped to say, “Well, you’re feeling chipper this morning, aren’t you, old man?”

This morning, I half-noticed him laying on top of his cave. I didn’t think much of it; he did that a lot. I went about pet feeding chores in my usual routine. When I got to the fish, I turned on the light and reached in with the tongs to put his algae wafer in the tank. That’s when it finally dawned on me.

He was upside down.

Kirby lived longer than any of our other pets. Sachet came close, but did not quite reach twenty. He was the only of our current pets who had known, though I can’t say that a fish would remember, my mom. He was with us through the high school and college graduations of both of my children, and through all the joys and sorrows of their lives. He witnessed my struggle with Pyoderma Gangrenosum, and the many months in a wheel chair. He wasn’t just one of the fish in the tank. Old Mister Pleco was a member of our family.

I have been pretty broken up all morning. Yes, over a fish. But he wasn’t just a fish.

He was Kirby.

I hope the rivers of heaven are cool and clear, and filled with all of the delightful aquatic vegetation treats that Plecos love best, old friend. It’s just not going to be the same around here without you.

Creature Thoughts, Aug 2018: Forever, Stars


Forever, Stars

Stars and MommyStars was a teacher. She may not have been what most rehabbers think of as an educational bird. She didn’t travel with me to events and sit on a perch while I taught the public about wildlife. But Stars taught people all over the world. She taught them about how even seemingly common beings could be exceptional. She taught them how amazingly intelligent birds can be. She taught them how humans are not the only animals capable of using human speech to communicate their thoughts. She taught them that birds actually have thoughts worth communicating. And she taught them with her own words.

No one who met her, in person or through her online presence, will forget Stars. She changed lives, and she changed hearts, as she gave people something to think about, to laugh about, and to wonder about.

Stars wasn’t just Sturnus vulgaris, a common Starling. She was a teacher, an entertainer, a companion, and a friend. There is really nothing common about the Starling, to begin with. They are funny, bright, communicative, intelligent souls. And there was most definitely nothing common about Stars. Even among Starlings, she will always be a star.

Stars was my Mommy’s Bird. I’ll miss her every day of my life. I’ve been told by her friends that a lot of other people are going to miss Stars, too.

Cancer is a horrible disease, and if there is a devil incarnate, I suspect he lives in cancer cells all over the world. It has taken many of my, and your, loved ones of all species. It took Stars so fast, my head is still spinning. We were scrambling to get her help, and had an appointment with Cornell’s Wildlife Health Center just a few days later. She didn’t make it there. Fate had other ideas.

I know that Stars would want to thank everyone, all her friends and fans, for all of the love that has been sent her way. Some might say a Starling wouldn’t understand enough to feel grateful for such love. But I know, and you know, that Stars would. She would call you all her hamsters, her very favorite word to use about things that made her happy. And you are all my hamsters, too.

The vets and techs at Cornell’s Wildlife Health Center were wonderful. Even though we never quite got to see them, they took a sincere and compassionate interest in my little bird. Since much of their funding comes through donations, I’m sure they would appreciate a gift in Stars the Starling’s name. Visit them at


There, you will find a “Make a Gift Online” button.

Stars and Stripes, and all my birds, came to me through New York Wildlife Rescue Center. Wes, Kelly, and all the volunteers there, are some of Stars’ favorite humans. They were incredibly supportive and helpful during her swift decline. I couldn’t have survived the whirlwind without them. NYWRC is always in need of donations, and is a cause dear to my heart. I’ll be sure your donation is registered in memory of Stars, if you so request. Donations can be made through their website:


From now on, whenever you see a Starling (or, for that matter, a hamster), I hope you will think of Stars. Imagine her in the heavens, looking down on me, and saying in her little space-alien voice….

“I’m watching Mommy!”

(Note: mp3 file at the above link may not work on a cellphone or other mobile browser. You may have to listen to it on your computer.)

News and Updates:

You really never know what life is going to throw at you. Thank you for your patience as I adjust to loss, heal new injuries, and try and assimilate the many changes that have occurred recently.

As always, please continue to visit my website for updates, changes of schedule, etc. I will always try to keep the Unavailable Times page current, and you can also follow my Twitter announcements in the sidebar.

Blessings and Light,