Freedom lay in a heap of pain and agony. The eagle could not stand; both wings were broken. She was starved and saturated in lice. Should Freedom be put to sleep or was there a chance to save her?
Jeff Guidry volunteered at the Sarvey Wildlife Center in Washington. This fractured bird touched his heart; it was decided to give her a chance.
The blues guitarist carried the baby eagle to the vet. Freedom was brought back to the Center and placed in a huge dog carrier with shredded newspaper to give her comfort. Only nothing revived the eagle as much as Jeff. He was at her side with every moment he could spare.
The bird handler whispered words of encouragement to Freedom; repeatedly coaxed her not to give up, to fight for life. He could feel her spirit when she gazed at him; feel her courage as she was fed through a tube inserted into her body.
The struggle continued for nearly six weeks, still Freedom did not respond, could not stand. It was time for a critical decision. Jeff was torn, “You know you don’t want to cross that line between torture and rehab, and it looked like death was winning.”
Time had run out, Freedom would be “put down” on Friday. There was no way Jeff wanted to go to the Center on Thursday. “…I couldn’t bear the thought of her being euthanized,” he sighed, “but I went anyway.”
Jeff’s love for Freedom outweighed any personal pain he would suffer. His heart pounded as Jeff neared the Center. When he stepped inside everyone had a grin, the ear-to-ear spread, as if something miraculous had happened. Could it be?
He raced to Freedom’s cage and—there she stood in all her glory—Freedom had chosen life.
This day in 1998 would never be forgotten by Jeff or Freedom.
“We knew she could never fly,” Jeff offered, “so, the director asked me to glove train her.” When Freedom’s training was finished the Center began education programs for schools in Western Washington. Jeff was stunned at the results. “We wound up in the newspapers, radio, TV. Miracle Pets even did a show about us.”
Life was wonderful until…
Jeff was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the spring of 2000. Freedom’s partner began to fight; he lost his hair from chemo treatments, missed many days of work. No matter, he couldn’t give up the bird he loved so much; on good days Jeff would visit Freedom, take her for walks.
The brave little eagle encouraged her handler to give his all. Freedom appeared to Jeff over and over in his dreams. She became a major factor in his fight against cancer. The day after Thanksgiving in 2000 Jeff was scheduled for his last check-up.
The following Monday he returned for the test results. “…I was told that all the cancer was gone.” Another miracle.
“So, the first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her up, and we went out front to the top of the hill. I hadn’t said a word to Freedom, but somehow she knew.
“She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me,” Jeff recounted, “to where I could feel them pressing on my back. And she touched my nose with her beak, and stared into my eyes, and we just stood there like that for I don’t know how long.
“That was a magic moment,” Jeff related. “We have been soul mates ever since she came in. This is a very special bird.
“…I have had people who were sick come up to us when we are out, and Freedom has some kind of hold on them. I once had a guy who was terminal come up to us, and I let him hold her. His knees just about buckled, and he swore he could feel her power course through his body. I have so many stories like that.
I never forget the honor I have of being so close to such a magnificent spirit as Freedom.”
May Your Glass Always Be Half Full