I dream I’ve taken Dulcinea, our dusky conure, outside to accompany me on my rounds as she does in the apartment, clasped to my shoulder, leaning this way and that. But the weather turns cold and rainy, and she starts shivering. I cradle her in my hands and hold her against my chest, transfusing my warmth, thinking of Tom Paxton’s “Rambling Boy”: “He got the chills and he got them bad/ I lost the only friend I had.” I take her to the vet who once told me that in a former life I was a bird. He spends a lot of time with Dulcie and says, “That’s all I can do. We’ll just have to see if she’s strong enough to come through this.” I ask the vet why the two of us are so wrapped up in saving this tiny creature, and he replies, “We matter too much in this world….” As I sob at his eloquence, I awaken dry-eyed but near tears, sure I will never forget what he said, if I can manage to write it down.