This is primarily a humor blog, but my rabbit just died of a tumor and there’s really nothing funny about that.
Nothing that wouldn’t be in bad taste, I mean.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately—more than I should have to during summer break, when it’s finally socially acceptable to laze around, camp out in front of the TV, and regress into a mindless stupor. Summer break is when you have too much time on your hands and you shell out the hours like a billionaire would dollar bills, blowing them all on redundant trips to the mall and popsicles that dye your tongue the colors of the rainbow.
Summer break is not when you hole yourself up a floor above your family, alternating between crippling surges of apathy and guilt. Summer break is not when you obsess over statistics, Yahoo Answers, and 30-70 survival rates. Summer break is not when you just sit there and think about death during lazy afternoons.
Yet here I am.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about death, not just my rabbit’s, but in general—specifically how the dead are primarily associated with how they passed. Think about the way we talk about dead people. It’s never John who liked spinach pizza and hated singing because he couldn’t carry a tune, never John who smiled at everything that breathed because “that was just his face.” It’s always John who died of stomach cancer or John who shot himself. Years of existence amount to the manner in which people stop existing.
This is not intentional. We’re busy people; we don’t have much time to spare for things that aren’t at the forefront of our lives, for less relevant thoughts. Frankly, after a while, the dead are lucky if we have time to even mention them after passing. People’s entire lives, then, are often reduced to single epithets, and it’s always, always about how they died.
I think a person’s death should be treated more like an afterthought. Like in those based-on-a-true-story movies, the ones that, right before the credits, spell out in plain white text what fate befell each major character. Their “ends” are mentioned but do not overshadow the more significant episodes presented in the film.
People are curious, often morbidly so; therefore, it is understandable that when notified of someone’s death, the first thing that comes to mind is “how?” But, looking at the big picture, how important is a life’s end, really?
My rabbit was a cancer victim, but she was also many other things.
The first time I laid eyes on her was six years ago at, perhaps not surprisingly, the pet store. It was a purchase not made on a whim, but also not completely thought through.
My rabbit was a compromise. A day before us, my cousin had visited the store and picked out his favorite bunny out of the three, leaving me with the other—less appealing, I’m assuming—ones. Only, that bunny got sold before we could get to it, so my cousin then set his eyes on my choice.
I was older and knew it was only a matter of time before an adult forced me to concede, so I, ever the resentful eleven-year-old, suggested that we share the rabbit that neither of us wanted. (Even then, evidently, my selflessness knew no bounds.)
My rabbit was named Moon, a name that sounded a whole lot better at the time. (To be fair, though, it was also in another language.) We soon abandoned “Moon” and never thought it necessary to rename her.
My rabbit was my anchor. During my 6th grade year, when my life was up-ended and I was dumped into a public school with classmates who spoke a different language and judged me for my RBF, I could look forward to spending time with her (read: chasing her around the house while she expertly dodged any display of affection).
My rabbit was a nuisance. Every morning I’d let her out of her cage, and every morning I’d find myself running late for school trying to fish her out from behind the dresser with a broom. She gnawed on wires, ate my breakfast, and went to my bathroom if I let her out for too long.
My rabbit was loved. I used to imagine she loved me, although in reality she probably just associated me with food. I collected her fur, gave her dry scrubs, and spent hours lying beside her on cold tile.
My rabbit was a source of guilt. I’d always wanted a pet, but I never considered if my pet would want to be my pet. She spent most of her life cooped up in her cage, which was situated right above her waste, and I could never quite forget the fact that I was the reason why.
My rabbit was left behind, entrusted to my aunt, when I moved back to my hometown. I missed her so much the first two years, and then a little less the next, and then a little less.
My rabbit, this summer, was more sluggish than I’d remembered. She hardly hopped. She would just lie down, get up, repeat. I chalked it up to her finally losing the exuberance of youth. Or maybe the onset of depression.
I took a bunch of pictures with her the next morning, intending to post one on social media with some stupid caption like “reunited” or “my love for you is worth more than a 14-carrot ring.” Then, while petting her, I felt something under her skin. “Can rabbits get cancer?” I asked, half-jokingly. “There’s a hard lump.” Someone laughed. Five minutes later, we found blood.
My rabbit was proof that there are times you don’t want to be right.
My rabbit was in pain. I tried my hardest to relieve it, but things were not in my control. We were sent pictures of her on the operating table–I didn’t want to look, but a perverse fascination (I’d never once seen her sleep) prevented me from looking away.
My rabbit’s tumor had gotten too large and was attached to a major artery. The surgeon stopped the surgery and sewed her back up.
My rabbit woke up and vomited blood.
My rabbit died the next day at 9:00 AM.
My rabbit led me to realize that whatever your accomplishments in life, you will be remembered through your relationships with others. Fame is fleeting. If you make a groundbreaking discovery, you might be remembered for your work, but even if your name is immortalized, it will be passed down as a name, and little else.
The thought is humbling.
In the vastness of the universe, my rabbit is almost pitifully insignificant. In the end, she was just a rabbit, but she was my rabbit, and she matters because she mattered to me. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, maybe that doesn’t seem like enough, but it’s something.