About a bird

Anxiety is high around here. August always seems to ratchet up the nerves. Summer has lost its charm, but not its edge. The humidity and the heat and the smells and strangers barking at each other in the street. Hurricanes and tropical storms are coming this way, they keep saying. One after another. Who can say what's next?

I've had conversations with not one, not two, but three loved ones who were beset with (they knew) irrational fears. I feel like I spend most of my time in Reassurance Mode. I'm glad I can be the one who's relatively calm (for once), but then I worry about their worry, because worry is bad for the health.

No one is sleeping. And when we manage it, our dreams are weird.

A few days ago I found a dying baby sparrow on the sidewalk. He blinked fast, flapped his wings, toppled over. His claws were mangled. There was nothing I could do, but I couldn't leave it. My downstairs neighbor came by. We sat down by the bird, in the middle of the sidewalk. Other passersby stopped and weighed in on what could be done. The baby bird kept blinking. I made some phone calls. No one asked why I was bothering with a baby sparrow, which I appreciated, but there was no real help to be found. We murmured to it. The blinks stopped. Mostly we were relieved. We wondered whether we helped the baby bird as it died, or terrified it. We did the best we could. We knew it wasn't much.

Yesterday that same neighbor texted me: "I am not kidding, there's another dead sparrow in our driveway," she wrote.

"Don't worry," I wrote back. "It's just Zombie Sparrow, come to exact revenge."

She was sure there was a bird epidemic. It would just figure, wouldn't it? The heat is rising, birds are dropping from the sky. What's next?

There's no question there's plenty to worry about. There's always a crisis. But I keep thinking how, on one of the hottest days of the year, people came upon two goofballs crouched over a baby bird, and they stopped to see what could be done. I don't know, I guess what I'm trying to say is we have each other, which is so cloying, but I mean it. Everything's scary, but we can be pretty great. Even in the middle of August, and everything dying around us.