So Long, Little Bunny

Little Bunny 01

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.

33 comments

  1. Oh, Biff–I had the same thing happen here last month. A little bunny separated from its mother. We did everything we could but it wasn’t enough. I think because it happened so close to us losing Titus that I was affected even more than I would have been, and I certainly understand the depth of your feelings.

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    • Thank you, Suzanne. It is amazing how some of God’s creatures can work their way into our hearts without our being aware of it. And even after we experience the devastation of losing them, and we say we will never allow that to happen again … somehow it does. Grief over their passing is the price we pay for being human, just as the joy they bring to us while they live is our blessing, also for being human.

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  2. So we know that Tennyson wrote “Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” – I’m sure he wrote that about a very different circumstance but maybe the sentiment has some echoes here …

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    • Thank you. You are so right! I know I am better off for having him in my life for those short weeks, just as I know my life would have been a little emptier if he’d never shown up at all. Pain tends to fade over time, while fond memories tend to get stronger. Thank you for you sentiments!

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    • Thank you, Authoress. Your words mean so much to me and I am greatly complemented by them. And I think you are very right. I have pondered why he showed up when he did, and why he touched me as deeply as he did, and I could only conclude that it was a lesson God knew that I needed to learn at this time.

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    • Thank you, Candice. And you are so right. I think that’s what made it so difficult. Perhaps if he’d been older … and had lived a longer and fuller life … it might have been easier. But as it was, it felt like an innocent had been unjustly taken too early and for no apparent reason.

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    • Thank you, Deb. It is indeed very difficult. Even for those animals that I don’t particularly get attached to, like a random bird that I cannot distinguish between any other of his particular variety, it still saddens me greatly. Knowing that Nature is cruel, and may have Her own reasons for these things, does not make it any easier. To me, it is just a case of another beautiful thing taken away from us.

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  3. Where I live rabbits are pests, every bit as virulent as the current pestilence. But I guess what that little bunny meant to you was a reaffirmation of life in the midst of man-made devastation, and I do mean the lockdown. Cheer up Biff, given the record of rabbits there’ll be another one along in a minute.

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    • Thanks, Noel. And you’re right. I realize letting a bunny into my heart is a luxury unique to suburbia and one that most of the rest of the world can’t afford to indulge in. I think what makes it possible to get so wrapped up in a random bunny, is that wildlife is a relative rarity here in the Texas ‘burbs. Birds are plentiful, but most other forms of wildlife are practically non-existent. It is hard not to be amazed and enamored of them when they make a surprise appearance.

      You are also right about other bunnies. One has already arrived and has set up shop in my back yard. He’s not the same, but nevertheless I have “adopted” him (or he as adopted my back yard). Either way, there is a new rabbit in my back yard.

      Cheers!

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  4. So sorry about your bunny friend! I would be devastated, too. I offer no table-top psychology on why this death bothered you more than others. It is enough that it is so. I see many bunnies around here, often when I am running in the morning, but I have not felt a kinship with any one in particular. Be well!

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    • Thank you! Your sympathies do indeed help. As for the psychology of it, I suppose that, just as between people, there is no rhyme or reason as to why we “click” with some animals and not with others. There are still dozens and dozens of rabbits in my neighborhood, and though I enjoy seeing them when I go for my walks, they are just sort of “there”. More or less part of the scenery. But I do wish them all well, and wish them long, pleasant lives.

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  5. I feel regret for the little bunny now. Every day I pass two or three rabbits in neighboring yards on my way with the dogs up to the hills behind us. I rein in the dogs so as not to frighten them. May I cheer you up by shipping a few dozen gophers your way?

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    • Thank you, Eric. One of the consolations of suffering a loss is witnessing all around us that life does indeed go on. I would be quite thrilled if a gopher or two took up residence in my yard, but I don’t think they do well in Texas. At least, I’ve never seen one down here that I know of.

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    • Thank you, James. I appreciate that very much. One thing that lessens the ache of a loss is knowing that we are in the company of others who sympathize with us. None of us get through life without loss, and being here for each other is a big comfort.

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    • Thank you, Janet. I agree wholeheartedly. When I walk through my neighborhood, I still see plenty of bunnies darting around or enjoying grass or flowers. I even have a rabbit that still visits my back yard. I think it may be an older sibling of Little Bunny. And though I am happy to see all of them, they do not in any way diminish the loss of my little buddy.

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  6. Aww… I do feel sad for you. I’d feel exactly the same. And do exactly the same.

    A pair of robins made a nest at the seniors’ home where I work and the birds became a focal point. Last Fri & Sat the senior couple was excited to see baby birds poking up their beaks to be fed. Sunday the female was nowhere to be seen and we found the male dead. No obvious injuries.
    Melvin checked and reported the baby birds were almost dead. There was nothing we could do but we all felt so sad. No, nature isn’t always kind — and humans aren’t always kind to nature, either. We were so hopeful, as this year there were no kids around to bother them, but that didn’t help.

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    • Thank you, Christine. I’m so sorry to hear about the birds at the seniors’ home. I can well imagine the excitement that such a renewal of life must have meant to everyone there.

      Most of us are so excited and thrilled when we see nature blooming or frolicking or coming into being right in front of our eyes. Encapsulated in those beautiful moments are all of our hopes and dreams and optimism and love. Watching it come to ignominious or tragic ends chips away at our very souls. But, in the end, we are better off for having seen it, no matter how briefly.

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