This is going to be fairly quick and unedited, because I can barely stand to write it down.
Do you recall this entry, the one where I wrote about how the Fiery One had taken Gordon to the vet, and how we found out that Gordon was a she instead of a he? I was kind of overwhelmed by the biological gender issue and forgot to mention that the stomach problem was not a big deal. The vet gave us some antibiotics for the bunny’s foot problem (rabbit’s have very sensitive dogs), a nutrient-high supplement, and a syringe to administer pineapple juice for breaking up the hairball that was causing the problem.
Gordon is, uhm, shall we say, rambunctious. Also, she’s really stubborn. Also, she has no problems with totally chowing down on someone’s hand if she feels confined. These character traits made it a great joy to have to manhandle her into more or less helpless configurations and force-feed her three syringes of antibiotics, nutritional supplement, and pineapple juice twice a day. The antibiotic smelled like ten thousand decaying bellybuttons, so we didn’t blame her for trying to take out the Fiery One’s index fingers with her evil, fangy bunny teeth.
First, the Fiery One would approach Gordon with a soft voice and give her little head rubs and pats, and she would hunker down and squint her eyes, unaware that this was all a ruse so that he could pin her down and get a good grip on her. Once the Fiery One had wrestled Gordon up against his chest and had all her feet firmly braced (rabbits can fracture their own spines with the force of their own panicked kicks), I would work on getting a syringe stuck in the space between her front and back teeth and empty it into her mouth before she had managed to pull her head back to try out being a carnivore on the Fiery One’s hands. The Fiery One was really good about being the one holding her and getting bit several times a day. I’m glad that it was him and not me, because I am terrified of being bit by any living thing ever (except mosquitoes, because that’s just silly). We managed to keep her fed and watered and medicated, and she did not come to completely and utterly hate the two of us for these repeated torture sessions.
It is so difficult to have to do something like that to a being that you love so much. I have strong, protective urges when it comes to Gordon. My entire living room is rearranged so that all electrical cords are on one wall and hidden behind a shelving unit (a lot of house rabbits die of electric shock while chewing through cords). I watched her constantly to make sure she didn’t ingest plastic or metal bits (she tried eating everything everywhere all the time). I made sure that she was pet and talked to regularly so that her bunny brain understood her place in our family. I even controlled myself when she peed all over my sleeping bag or ran away with a Seamus Heaney book or obsessed about eating our wedding photo album. It was very nasty to see her struggling and trying not eat the death-of-a-thousand-bellybuttons medicine. And yet, she still came for pats and scratches and tried to eat a guest’s sock in the cutest possible way while he was still wearing it. Things looked good.
When bunnies become sick, though, they take turns for the worse very quickly, and Gordon began to noticeably lose weight and fur over the weekend. She eventually gave up eating and drinking altogether, and I knew that our force-feeding was not going to fix things, so yesterday morning, the Fiery One and I loaded her up in her pet carrier and took her to the veterinarian in a taxi.
I had this numbness all the way to the clinic, because I had read about rabbits and how easily they can succumb to illness, and something about the way she was sitting told me that we would never be bringing her home. She had her back end raised a bit to ease the pressure on her pained abdomen and her front feet were splayed in an unnatural manner. I think the worst part was having to hear her grind her teeth. Her pain was so bad that I think it was all she could do to bear down and take it. My response to the situation was to become physically unaware, as though reduced tactile sensation could cushion me against what might happen.
The vet saw us right away and let us know pretty quickly what was what. She said that we could go ahead with surgery to remove the mass in her belly, but bunnies don’t recover well from surgery. The prognosis was pretty grim, and her pain was so great, so the Fiery One and I told the doctor that we would go ahead with euthanasia. It seemed like the humane thing to do. Nodding my head in assent to that decision was one of the hardest bits of communication I have ever had to perform.
The vet excused herself from the office, and the Fiery One and I held onto each other and cried. I cried on the Fiery One’s head, on my hands, on our sweaters, on Gordon, on several tissues. Our Gordon sat on the table looking so diminished, so tired, so pained, and all I wanted was for her to feel better for a few moments so that I could pet her the way she liked so that she could enjoy it one last time and squint up her eyes and stretch her feet out for maximum petting coverage. I vainly wanted to see her not hurting before we said goodbye. I kissed her head and wished her well when the vet gathered her up in the towel from her cage and took her away. She wasn't even bothering to struggle against being held anymore.
When we arrived home with our empty pet carrier, the Fiery One cleaned and cleaned in the living room, throwing out the old shavings and food, sweeping the floor where the cage was, and removing everything rabbit from the room. I was glad that he did this, because all I could do was lean against the kitchen sink and weep. I didn’t have the strength to help him. And today, I keep weeping off and on despite the fact that she was only just over a year old, despite the fact that she was merely a five-pound bunny, despite the fact that she was a nuisance who peed on my stuff – because I love(d) her.
And now my companion is gone. I will miss her.
mid-August 2003 – 6 September 2004