Monday, January 26, 2009

Goodbye Lucky

This past Thursday, we said goodbye to yet another rabbit, Lucky. We had adopted him just two months ago. He was at least five years old and we knew his time would be limited. Yet my eldest daughter says it was the most difficult for her.

I have a feeling that, in the long run, this was the best experience for us when it comes to our small pets’ dying. The other two rabbits were still young and we were unsure as to whether we could have prevented their premature deaths. This one was being cared for in its old age. He was warm, well-fed, and loved. It was simply his time to go.

At 9:00 Thursday night, normally my children would all be in bed, but my eldest daughter was up late finishing up a research assignment. She happened to look at Lucky and thought it was moving strangely. She yelled to me, “Mommy, come quick!”

I reluctantly put down my dark chocolate Klondike bar and went into the laundry room, where Lucky resided. He appeared to be having a seizure of some sort. I picked him up and his body was limp. He was still blinking and occasionally twitched his legs.

We took him into the kitchen and laid a cotton shirt on him to make him warm and comfortable. The other two older children were called down. I knew he was near his end and thought this was an opportunity to teach about caring for someone in the last moments of life.

We took turns holding and stroking the rabbit. After an hour, I sent the 8- and 10- year olds to bed. My 11-year-old had done her crying and sat at the kitchen table copying out her report as I tended to the rabbit. Near 11:00, the rabbit made a sound. “Meep,” it said. It was the first time it had opened its mouth in the past two hours. It started moving again.

I picked it up and my daughter dropped some water into its mouth. It repeatedly opened its mouth and lapped up the drops of water. Then I saw its eyes glaze over as it stopped breathing. I laid it down again, and covered it up.

The children still went to school the next day. My toddler looked at the rabbit, unmoving in its cage. I told her, “Lucky’s sleeping. He was sick and old and now he is gone to heaven.” She repeated, “Bunny…heaven.” She did not go back to look at him the rest of the morning.

Later, while she was napping, the kids came home from school and we buried him in the backyard corner garden, next to Peach and Hoppity. It was a little difficult for me, with a frozen, snow-covered ground. I had already blessed him with holy water during his final moments, so we simply said a prayer and laid him to rest.

My 11-year-old was upset that our toddler would be asking for Lucky when she woke up. She did go to look at the empty cage. “Where bunny?” she asked. Again I explained, “Bunny went to heaven,” and she repeated, “Bunny…heaven.”

She made the connection later, when I was talking about eating a peach. She said, “Peach…bunny…heaven.”

“Yes, honey, Peach is in bunny heaven with Lucky and Hoppity.”

Picture is of St. Francis of Assissi, patron saint of animals.


Loren Christie said...

How horrible. Tell the children I'm sorry about Lucky.

Charlotte said...

I've left an award for you over at my blog!