Sometimes things work their way deep into our hearts without us even realizing it.
A month or two ago, I was delighted to note that there was a baby bunny living in my backyard. He lived there with his mother, though I rarely saw her. He lived in a small gap between a planter and my fence. He was a tiny little thing … smaller than a tennis ball at first. He could have easily fit in the palm of my hand, though I never tried.
He came out quite often to nibble on grass or whatever flowers might have been planted in the past week. But far from being upset, I was delighted every time I saw him. Whether he was nibbling on grass or making a dessert of Gerber daisies, I could not have been more happy every time I saw him eating.
I found myself looking for him every time I was at the kitchen window or the back door. The first thing I did every morning was look for him as I was making my coffee. The first thing I did when I got home from work was to look out the kitchen window to see if I could see him. And every evening, just before it got too dark to see, I would look for him.
I fretted when it rained outside, or if I did not see him for a day. I worried about neighborhood cats or marauding crows. I stopped mowing the little patch of grass near where he lived, partly for fear of scaring him with the mower, but partly so he could have nice tall grass to hide in, and that he could nibble on in peace.
I called him Little Bunny. This was a little play on words, a reference to the way the Skipper would call Gilligan his Little Buddy.
Here is a little video I took of him.
A few days after I took this video, I didn’t see him in the morning when I got up. Or later in the day. Or the next morning before I went to work. I fretted about him all day at work and so, when I got home that evening, I went out in the back to look for him.
And, sadly, I found him dead.
I don’t know what he died of. It did not look like he had been attacked. Perhaps the heavy rains we’d had for the two days before that had done him in. Or he had succumbed to an illness. Who knows? Nature is not always particularly kind or merciful to her own children.
It is common practice, when one finds dead wildlife one’s yard, to dispose of it without thought, and certainly without ceremony, nor less still any dignity. But I chose to bury Little Bunny in the back yard, near where I used to see him playing. This was his home every bit as much as mine. This was where he played and where he lived out his short little life. And I wanted him to remain here at his home.
And to say that I was devastated is an understatement. A week has gone by since I buried him, and this post has not gotten any easier to write. I almost gave up writing it several times because it was killing me to write it.
I honestly don’t understand why this has affected me so powerfully. I have had bunnies live in my yard before. I have had baby squirrels and baby birds too numerous to count. I have had pets come and go in my life whose passing did not affect me this powerfully. For some reason, this has absolutely laid waste to my soul. Perhaps I heaped upon his little heart all of the anxiety and fear and depression of this past year, and made him my symbol of hope and optimism and joy.
But whatever the reason is, he touched my heart and my soul immeasurably.
And I will never forget you, Little Bunny.