What would you do, if a rabbit found you?
I’ve asked myself that question now for 2 years. Because in all the uproar, the fighting, the spit, the venom, the discourse, the losses and mind pounding stress of these last 2 years, I come to this day in the hope of answering that question and finding renewed strength.
I’ll wager to say every single one of us lost something or someone over these past 2 years, in almost every case someone or something we cannot replace. In the end, it’s simply called “life”. No matter what we have, how much we own, how much stuff we can gather, the days and years will take their toll and we will be left, eventually, with nothing. The only thing truly positive between the time we take our first breath and the time we exhale a final time is that something seeks us out, changes us, molds us, makes us better than who we are.
Something that forces us to reexamine what we’re doing here, and what we’re leaving on the table.
The evening of March 10, 2016. That’s when Magnus saw something in the back yard, something catching his attention. We never would have known had he not been doing his “job” watching over his family and looking out the window.
Lo and behold. A pure white rabbit. Pink eyes and all. And trust me when I tell you, the manner with which that backyard was setup, there was almost no way she could have wandered into the grass. I was as if she dropped from the heavens or some misguided magician was practicing the act in our backyard at night.
Long story short, we caught her and brought her in. We have no idea what to do, but I was convinced she had to have come from somewhere in the neighborhood. I scoured back yards, looking for cages, signs that someone had a rabbit. Nothing. No one put up any signs looking for a lost ball of fur.
We thought about rabbit rescues, for a time, until I discovered how tragically overloaded they are and how many of these docile creatures are euthanized every day. There is simply no room, and few seek to adopt them. A rescue for rabbits often becomes a death sentence.Too many people dump them, buy them as gifts for kids and than don’t want to care for them anymore, see them as disposable. The rescues try as hard as they can, but the numbers are overwhelming.
So the decision was made.
She found us. Out of the blue. She was home. This was her family.
A white rabbit, and me the rock and roller, I christened her Gracie. Named after Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane and their 60’s hit, “White Rabbit”.
Damn if I didn’t become attached to that little girl. We took her out to play, introduced her to the kids, and when I went in to let her out of her cage, she would walk up to me and softly lick the tip of my nose. It’s a picture I’m looking at right now.
She brought an intrinsic joy to the house, a little mystery, and a lot of laughs. How we figured she was able to jump up on the bed is another story for another time.
Then, on the evening of October 8, when I checked on her for the night, something was wrong. Her nose had turned blue. She was laboring. We rushed her to a local animal hospital who dispatched us saying, “we don’t care for exotics here”. They sent us to a smaller clinic a few miles away. They were in my opinion, not designed to truly handle such emergencies. X-rays were taken, and her lungs were filling with fluid. Congestive heart failure. I begged them to do something, anything. My hope was to keep her alive thru the night and get her to our vet the next morning. The tech, and Lady Shannon, both told me it wouldn’t make a difference. It was merely a bad stroke of nature, and there was nothing we could do.
I did not take it well. You see, I’ve had animals my entire life, but beginning with Magnus and Bailey, they were never mine to care for. Never mine to call companion. Never mine to call family. They were always my parents responsibility. I traveled and move too much to properly care for another life so dependent on me. In essence, this was the first time I was forced to say farewell to a 4-legged family member. I have over my life been one touch son of a bitch. But when it comes to matters such as these, I’m as soft-hearted as they come. With no regrets or apologies.
I held her in my arms and said goodbye. She was so scared because she couldn’t breathe outside of the air chamber. I knew we had no chance of keeping her alive thru the night without her suffering.
Gracie’s body now resides with her blanket and her toys, in almost the exact spot we found her. We don’t live there anymore, and I’m certain the white flowering bush we planted over her has been removed by new owners. But as Lady Shannon has told me many times, that’s not Gracie resting there. It’s just a vessel. Gracie, like those 2 and 4 legged family members we bid farewell, never leave us because they find a permanent place in our hearts.
She’s been gone 2 years now, and I can still feel her. I can still sense that lick on the nose. I can realize how lucky I was to have her in my life for such a short time, because she taught me a lot about surprise, luck, laughter, and love.
It hasn’t been a good 2 years, certainly not the ones we wanted. It has been a struggle, and a part of me marks that day as when things started to slide.
Yet, there are others I come into contact with every day who are dealing with much tougher issues in their lives. People I admire for their courage. Those who move forward without so much as a wave of the hand to the cards they’ve been dealt. And who take in the bad times, shake them up inside, and pour forth a measure of kindness and inspiration.
It’s been 2 years since we lost that magical little rabbit. I promised myself that one day, I would write a children’s book entitled, “What Would You Do if a Rabbit Found You?” I’ve failed to fulfill that promise, but I will. I need to, because we must endeavor to find those small slivers of light in what seems to be overwhelming darkness. We must seek every day to find something, anything, that will not just put a smile on our face, but on those around us. We cannot allow ourselves to merely let the world to go by without doing something to try and change it. Even in the smallest of cases.
Seven months with that little ball of fur. Yet I miss her every day. Because she, without knowing or having any concept of what was happening around her, changed me, changed us, impacted our lives to the point we will never forget as long as we live.
Some will say, “Hey, it’s just a RABBIT for God’s sake!”.
Perhaps, just perhaps, God put her there for a reason. And while I’m often the farthest thing from a religious man, as God and I have a very difficult relationship, I believe some people and, in this case, some animals are put in our lives for a reason. They are here to teach us something. Leave us with more than we had at the beginning.
Gracie left me something. Right now, I can feel her giving me that little lick to send me off on my day, perhaps to find a smile.
Because she’s in my heart. The first place we all should look when we’re seeking the difficult answers in life.
What would you do if a rabbit, a dog, a cat, or a person you never expected, found you?