Friday, October 31, 2008

Heavenly Home for a Bunny

Today was a sad, sad day. When I woke up my husband told me that the rabbit had died.

“What! No! How!” I exclaimed in horror.

“It got really cold last night. It must have frozen.”

I felt really, really terrible. Every day I check the weather to make sure it is safe for Peach to stay in its outdoor cage. If a thunderstorm is predicted, or temperature under 40 degrees, we bring her in to its cage in the garage. In really cold weather, the cage gets brought into the laundry room.

That one day we did not check the weather, and there was a sudden cold snap. It was so warm today – I was outside in a t-shirt – that it seamed really unbelievable that it could have happened.

But it did, and I just dreaded having to tell the children, especially my eldest. She had been distraught after the death of Hoppity, and Peach had been a great solace to her.

Someone suggested waiting until tomorrow – but that just would not be right. We could not just leave her out there for another day and night. They had a right to know.

I put off visiting the cage until after noon. Knowing I would have no stomach to eat afterwards, I made myself eat lunch. I put the baby in for a nap and got out a nice shoebox. I went to the shed for a shovel.

Peach was still soft and fluffy, and I hoped she had died in her sleep and felt no pain in her hypothermia. I dug a hole for later and tried to lose myself in the swing set construction project for a while.

Later, I called my friend with whom we had plans to trick-or-treat. “Not to put a damper on your day, but I just wanted you to know my kids might be a little sad when we come over later…” I asked her to say a little prayer for us around the time my kids were to get home.

As they got off the bus, I greeted them at the door. Their bright and smiling faces ripped through my heart. They were looking forward to some fun trick-or-treating with friends. How much worse would their disappointment be when expecting something good?

I directed them all into the living room and they knew something was up. I had my eldest sit next to me. When I got to the part about there being a “cold snap”, her eyes widened in realization of what I was getting to. The other two needed it spelled out for them. Then there were shrieks and tears and running outside to check and then up the stairs and a locking of doors.

I left them in peace for twenty minutes. My eldest came to me and said she never wanted another rabbit again. She let me hug her. I keyed myself into my nine-year-old’s room and found her still crying on her bed. I put my arms around her.

I asked the girls if they were ready to go outside and say goodbye. They were and we went. I told my toddler the bunny was sleeping.

“Bunny weeping,” she repeated.

Using a small towel, I picked up the rabbit and placed it in its box. They all petted it. I said a prayer. I waited until they were ready before I closed the box. Then we carried it to the corner garden where I had dug the hole, next to where Hoppity lay. I placed it in the hole and covered it up.

“Where’d bunny go?” asked my toddler.

“Bunny went to heaven,” I told her.

“Bunny gone,” she said.

“Do you still want to go trick-or-treating?” I asked.

“Yes,” they all said unanimously.

So we went, and they had a surprisingly good time.

But after we had eaten loads of candy and it was time for bed, they became very sad again. We read “Home for a Bunny”, by Margaret Wise Brown. In the story, a bunny is looking for a home. He finally finds it with another bunny, in a burrow under the ground. The picture reminded us of Hoppity and Peach, who are now sleeping together under the ground. My nine-year-old read it to the baby, replacing “the bunny” with “Peach”, and in the context of Peach finding its home in Heaven along with Hoppity.

1 comment:

Loren Christie said...

Tell the children I am very sorry about their bunny. I lost a bunny too when I was a child, and it was very sad. I cried.