May 2, 2014 § 3 Comments
In 2007, my wife and I went to the Humane Society and adopted a small grey rabbit we named Grimalkin. We called her Grim. She was anything but. It is impossible to sum up a life in words – to sit here and pin down all of Grimalkin in a few paltry sentences, so that you can know the way she really was. It is as doomed and foolish a task as rolling a rock up a hill when you know it will roll back down, but her life demands some memorial.
When we brought her home, we had two cats and another rabbit named Herne. Upon seeing Grim, Herne immediately knew this was the love of his little rabbit life, and wasted no time introducing himself, the way male rabbits have been doing since rabbit kind first arose on the Earth. Although slightly shocked by how forward he was, Grim accepted him as a suitable bunny mate, and wasted no time sorting out the rules of the household, explaining forcefully to the two cats that there would be no more of their habitual holding Herne down and grooming him phases. From that moment on, the only one who would get to groom Herne was Grim, and she made sure it was completely understood.
When Herne passed, I was convinced that I didn’t want a rabbit, that it was too hard to take care of them. Grim decided I was wrong, and sorted me out quite enthusiastically with a hot little tongue, grooming my face, my eyes and beard until I realized that I was hers and she wasn’t going anywhere. And that’s how things stayed for the next five years.
Grim was ludicrously brave, taking on vacuum cleaners, the cats, a little parrotlet with equal equanimity. Even when she got sick this week, she refused to let go, fighting her body’s betrayal of her with that same single minded courage. Grim feared little, stamping her feet, flicking when necessary, but she was also capable of delight. She danced better than any rabbit I’ve ever seen (even if I’m biased in her favor, prod of her as I am) and she had a positive gift for knowing exactly how to sneak up and start pushing her tiny head under your hand for nose rubbing.
I could sit here and type stories and anecdotes about Grimalkin until my fingers bled, though, and you still would not know her. You would not know of countless nights I lay away on the living room floor while she contentedly gnawed on a block of wood, sharing the night with me. You would not know about watching her dance around the room and come running up to my wife, mock-charging the small purple table Julian uses. You would not know of watching Julian trim her nails, making the little ‘bunny burrito’ by covering her head so she wouldn’t panic.
All of these and more made up seven years with her. Her last week in this world was one marked by a debilitating illness – she couldn’t raise her head, walk, she tried so hard that she actually injured herself worse and couldn’t get around, but she never once surrendered. She kept eating, she kept fighting. I can’t tell you how hard I wished for her to get better, how much I wanted her to beat this.
She was a rabbit. I know many people won’t understand how a grown man could weep over the death of a rabbit. Hell, when I was a kid, we used to eat rabbits. And yet here I am, in the throes of grief, because my daughter has been taken from me and I will see her no more. I will never see her dance again, never feel that small, shockingly warm tongue lap at my skin, never have her loaf next to me on the floor, never again will she wiggle in delight and grab the carrot away from me and run as though I would change my mind and try and take it back. Never again the sounds of teeth grinding in the night. Never again.
Grim bunny, you take a piece of us with you. Julian and I love you. There will never be enough words to say how much.