I post this in the hope that it may result in a budgie's life being saved.
If only I had realized that his sudden retreats to his "safe place" were not just some fleeting bird psychological thing
If only I had not dismissed his ceasing of play as the understandable result of being moved to a new room in a new house
If only I hadn't rejected as absurd the comment that "there's no sparkle in Louie's eyes anymore"
If only I had not said, "He'll get back to his usual self soon enough"
If only I had been more than mildly concerned that he was taking only a few nibbles of spinach instead of his usual motor-mouth devouring of a whole leaf
If only I had understood that his more frequent trips to the water bowl were not simply the result of my having turned up the thermostat to keep him nice and warm
If only I had been alarmed that he was sleeping a lot more than usual
If only I had repeated to myself a million-and-one times instead of just a million: "Birds hide their illness"
If only I had not concluded that his healthy weight and hyper-desire for millet meant he could not be that sick
If only I hadn't thought that eight-and-a-half years of extensive reading and careful observation and chats with the avian vet provided me sufficient expertise to determine whether he needed to be seen by a true expert
If only I had recognized that his heartwarming willingness to be cradled in the palm of my hand for the first time since he was a chick was actually a danger sign of the highest order
If only I had followed through when, after he suffered an alarming few seconds of disorientation, I said, "I need to take him to the emergency clinic!"
If only I had not so casually told the vet on Friday afternoon that it was fine that the first available appointment was on Monday morning
If only I had done all of those things
Maybe my beloved little Louie would still be alive.