Chapter Four — The Epilogue
In general, eagles live much longer lives than canaries, and so it was with the mighty bird who would occasionally soar past the bakery, peering through the window in hopes of catching a glimpse of the small bird singing from his swing or perch.
On one such flight, the eagle noticed that the cage was no longer by the window, and he took a chance to see if the baker had repositioned the cage somewhere else in the room. Alighting on the sill of the closed window, he looked inside. The cage was nowhere in sight, so he wondered where the bird might be.
Leaving the window, he flew to the front of the building and found the empty cage hanging by a chain at the entrance. Inside the cage was a photograph of the little bird carefully framed and positioned on the swing. A wreath of greens had been placed around the base of the cage, with fresh flowers cut from the garden that stretched along the full length of the porch.
The eagle in his lifetime had experienced many deaths, including those of his mates, and knew that he himself might pass away... someday. The empty cage was a sad reminder.
After that one afternoon with the songbird, they never met again, but the eagle carried away with him something from that day that he, at the time, didn’t understand. Every now and then he would think about what the songbird had said to him before the baker returned. For many months, he tried to ignore the small bird’s words, but on one flight over the body of water where he had splashed down during their adventure together, he saw his image in the water, aged and not quite as firm as he thought himself to be. In that moment he realized what the songbird had asked him about having never seeing his reflection.
This realization caused the eagle to experience yet a second form of reflection, or self-realization, as he continued to mull over the afternoon spent with the small bird. After a while, he realized that he had been mean and thoughtless when speaking to the bird, and that he had most likely been that way to many others throughout his life, and that that was one of the reasons he had no friends.
He also began to think about how fortunate he was, but how he had misused his time on earth by glorifying himself rather than by giving. The songbird sang for others, while the only thing the eagle lived for was himself.
After seeing the cage and realizing that the songbird had died, he became dispirited, knowing that he had given up his one chance to have a friend, someone who was thoughtful and forgiving.
“Maybe I can change,” he thought. “Even this late in life, and maybe I too can have some friends who I care for and who might care for me.”
It might have been the wind whistling through the trees, or maybe his imagination but at that moment the eagle thought he heard a song he remembered, fairly audibly in the upper register of his hearing. Though it might indeed have been just his imagination, he hoped, somehow, that it was sent to him by the one friend he might have found in his life.... so far.