We were in a summer cottage and our 6-year-old, Jimmy, was playing outside. Suddenly he appeared at the back door, tears streaming down his cheeks.
"I didn't mean to . . ." he blurted. "The little bird . . . I didn't think I'd hit it . . . I was just . . ."
Margaret calmed him down, and we learned what had happened. He had seen a wren near the ground and had tossed a stone at it, never dreaming he'd come close to it. To his surprise and horror he'd hit the bird and killed it. Or so he thought.
We knew this wren. There was a small birdhouse near the back door of the cottage, and when we sat on the patio we'd see a pair of wrens flitting to and from its tiny entrance. My wife said there must be eggs in the nest and that the wrens we saw were the parents. Now one of the parents was gone.
"Oh, Jimmy," my wife said.
"Where is the bird?" I said. "Maybe he isn't dead."
"He is," Jimmy said. "I buried him."
"You buried him? Where?"
We went outside and Jimmy led us to where he had scooped a shallow hole and had laid the bird to rest.
Except there was nothing there but the hole. The grave was empty.