How a Rabbit Changed my Perspective on Death

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?

image1

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.)

image2

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.

image1 (1)

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.

image3

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.


25 thoughts on “How a Rabbit Changed my Perspective on Death

  1. i like it all … ‘yer really funny … jeeze, it’s not often i really want to read another person and when i do it’s only because i like what they write half as much as what you have; funny, wise, tongue in cheek, a lot of fun … even wry whatever the hell that means …. who are you anyway(? an 11 year old kid going on 35/male/female/teacher/student/person who hasn’t moved away from home yet/67 year old man who knows his/her inner child…?) you gotta knack for humor kid, person, girl, guy, chicken shit ..(whoops sorry ..!) … it’s so hard to find these days … naahhhh … just kidding ! oh … sorry ! ks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I love it when people call me funny. (I wasn’t intending that to be serious, but then I realized that it’s the truth, really.)
      I would tell you to see my “Who am I” page, but I talk more about telekinetic cats than I do about specifics. And I like your guesses better; it’d be interesting to be 11 going on 35.

      Like

      1. wull … i won’t ask (age) don’t want to know … it’s better jumping around with different perplexity. cats! have you read my piece .,.. ‘my conversation with the cat’ ?

        how could anyone NOT call these little vignettes funny? they’re perfect! each one succinct and funny .,.. and the perfect length.

        i’m known for my ‘comments’ … . why comment if you can’t make a comment? i hate this ”well written” bullshit. WhAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE FRIGGING STORY .. and who are you to tell me something is ”well written” … .

        a reposting of a funny … very funny, i think .. story .. I Wasn’t Even Trying To Be Funny .,. i write a lot of things in ‘serial’ form … try to keep each episode around 200 words … seriously! find very few pieces worth sticking with …. wry .. ironic … self effacing … goofy … lots of fun … k s

        Like

      2. no! not interesting being 11 going on 35… interesting … and the ultimate in self awareness … to be 35 going on 11! bring out the child i say … partner it up with the adult … you got it all … ! what could be better than being a dorkey, funny, ridiculous idiot dressed up in adult clothing STILL able to function in the adult world … ? i’d refer you to a couple of pieces i wrote but don’t want to be too self aggrandizing … take care … ks

        Like

  2. How wonderful that you and your rabbit were able to share your lives together. What a gift to honor her memory with all the glorious joy of her life. I like your thinking. Stay in bed as long as you like, reminiscing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this comment! It made me smile(:
      While I would love to lie in bed and ponder the actually important issues of my life, the unfortunate responsibilities of real life beckon. But I will remember.

      Like

  3. Oh, sweet. I’m so sorry. I won’t say I’m on my 3rd rescue bunny (except that I am) and that her best bud is currently pushing up beautiful phlox and assorted ground cover in the yard. They do matter. All of them. Especially when they get your stuff in perspective. Sometimes it’s when they’re so damn cute and their little pecadilloes and “isms” make you laugh so that you’ll bust your spleen. More often, it’s when they’re going and gone.
    Never doubt, that bunny and the way she made you feel are more than enough – are so much something. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you SO much for this wonderful and beautifully written comment! It brought a smile to my face and expanded my vocabulary. Now I can run about throwing the delightful word “peccadillo” around.
      It makes me happy to hear that you’re on your 3rd rescue bunny (despite you “not” saying that, of course) and that you understand.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, you’re so very welcome. And I didn’t even remember to say that your bunny was beautiful. A Hotot, yes? With those smoky eyes! I can’t decide if the look is more Debbie Harry or Brigitte Bardot. She was just lovely.

    Like

  5. Funny (in the odd way, this time) that you should be on this topic right around the time I’ve been thinking such thoughts.

    My inspiration was my mom, who is (as far as I know) not in a terminal stage but 80-plus, losing mobility and some of her lucidity, and in a lot of pain. She’s at least as high-maintenance as a bunny at this point in her life.

    When my whole family converged on the parentals for a week’s visit this summer—the first such complete gathering in years—between the new view of Mom after some of us faraway-dwellers hadn’t seen her in quite a while, the fact that Mom and Dad finally revised their long-outdated will and powers of attorney and such, and the unusual together-time that my sisters and brothers-in-law and I spent discussing all of this, it was inevitable that death, dying, and yeah, funeral arrangements would be a major topic of conversation. Some, curiosity-driven as you mention: “Dad just told me they wanna be cremated, so they sold one of their cemetery plots—did he tell *you* guys that, or just *think* he did?” “Mom claims they’re giving a ‘naming’ gift to the charity they support. What the heck does that mean? Whose name? What gift? Did they remember to put it in writing in their new will???”

    But a lot of the thought and chatter, of course, boils down to what we ourselves hope, fear, want, and expect. And I think you nailed it. What we really need is to know that we matter.

    And you do. You’ve made a bunch of us think hard, and deeply, and for my part at least, with affection.
    Best to you!
    Kathryn

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was completely blown away by your comment because of both its length and thoughtfulness. I feel so touched that my post has resonated with you; I can barely begin to describe how your words made me feel. Mostly thankful, of course, but also really mushy, and no one wants that.
      I wish you the best of luck with your parents and thank you for your kindness<3

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s