Paradise Lost – Every Time We Lose A Pet


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Today I am mad at Adam and Eve.

If they hadn’t screwed up I would be a happy, skinny vegetarian living in endless health along with my pets and human loves. I’d be patting mama polar bears and their cubs, snuggling up with wildebeest though they might be pretty stinky.

Instead I spent the night on the filthy floor (a sick rabbit with non functioning rear legs is never going to earn me a good housekeeping award) beside my decrepit companion who, stretched out and immobile, looked more like discarded dirty laundry (whites, needing the sanitizing cycle) than a living breathing animal companion. I would have saved myself a half-gallon of tears so salty they chapped my cheeks and scalded the corners of my eyes. I would have saved my heart from the torture of watching this twisted body try helplessly to get up and move by flapping her rear feet in the direction of the wall instead of the floor despite the fact her head and front feet were going in a different direction. I wouldn’t have had to watch all night for some indication from her so I knew when to lift her into the kennel so she could relieve herself while lying down, falling over and need to be cleaned up. I would have spent the night wandering through happy dreams rather than being trapped in a living nightmare pleading with God and with my rabbit.

IMG_2240“Please God cure this rabbit. Please God give me the strength to be the guardian I promised to be when I joined my life with this rabbit, give me the strength to end this life I love if that is what I should do, but give me a sign so I am sure to do the right thing, Please God let this rabbit die tonight loved and comforted in my arms rather than make me take her on the scary stressful ride with the unthinkable outcome, if that is to be. Please God share some wisdom and insight with me. Help me find peace.”

“Please rabbit release your grip on life, if you cannot go on. Please rabbit let me know if there is some hope of recovery. Please rabbit let me know if there is any quality of life for you. Please rabbit understand how much I love you and that I am trying to do what is best.”

When we were both alive and awake through dawn and then the morning sun rose higher in the sky, I waited with my rabbit listless but alive in my arms until the vet’s office opened. I asked my husband to make the call to request the appointment. I couldn’t say the words. But I would make the final drive with her alone.

Did you buy treats?

Did you buy treats?

Her one love, superseding her love of me, Jon or her bunny brother, is food, and thinking it was the last thing I could do to make her happy I prepared to syringe feed my baby with the apple banana Critical Care gruel she craved, her main squeeze so to speak. It was a new bag, and I considered donating the rest to the shelter as I steadied her tipping body so she could try to eat. And she did.

And then we brought the traveling cage down from the attic and lined it with a blanket. I placed her inside without the usual battle. For the first time in her over protected life in my care, she rode in the front seat, no seat belt, so I could keep her cage level and minimize her flopping around and so I could scratch her nose through the cage as I tried to assuage her fear and confusion. And I prayed my prayers while rationalizing that it would be preferable for her to pass in a car accident than look in my eyes for the last time wondering why I’d brought her to the bad place where her last moments would be uncomfortable and scary as the blind rabbit was prodded and probed by a stranger.

IMG_6367And for what did I lose the harmonious earth-bound heaven? An apple*?  Seriously? You couldn’t stop yourself from eating the apple on one tree? There are millions of types of apples. I prefer Macoun, but to keep my health and my animal’s health I would have switched to Empire. Or tried a peach for Heaven’s sake.

(*Nowhere in the Bible is the fruit identified as an apple, but no matter what it was, it wasn’t worth it.)

*

DSC05016Now I recently learned it’s a sin to be angry (Really? That just seems like a justified response to people who are cruel or too greedy), and it’s a sin to be judgmental so as I sat on the floor in the vet’s office waiting to hear if I would need to make the call to end the beautiful life laying helplessly across my lap I understood why I could only ever be a sinner.

Adam and Eve were stupid and selfish, and I and, worse yet, my bunny were paying the price. Adam and Eve did not love each other, their future children or their animal friends enough to protect them. It wasn’t the snake tricking them; it was their own lack of connection to one another. So Eden may have been a perfect paradise but its inhabitants were as humans flawed. And our flaws have become magnified through time. We are worse now than we ever were, and beautiful creatures like my rabbit and lovely loving people are singled out for more trauma, heartache, and pain than seems bearable. We are living among Jobs.

IMG_5721 Snowbunny and real bunny (Mystic) museI didn’t even bother trying to stem my tears in the little office. The vet assistant or trainee examined Mystic and I haltingly said “I am praying this is a weird reversible disease.” And she said she hoped so too.  She took Mystic out of the room to weigh her though there was a scale in the room. I took this as a bad sign and feared a mistake might be made that she might be put away without me realizing it.

And then the official vet entered and fought with Mystic about checking her teeth and throat, her grimy ears. Mystic was manipulated and palpitated and the vet suggested a drug. A drug to make her better! Mystic wasn’t ready to give up yet. She was actually at a pretty decent weight since I started feeding her Critical Care daily. Maybe she’d been revived by the knowledge that I had that new bag of Critical Care in the house and she could not bear to think of it wasted.

Ultimately, Mystic was being plagued by a recurrence of a disease she’s had before – e. cunniculi. One that never presented like this with her or her brother. In the past she had the tell tale head tilt. But unlike most rabbits, her head tilted forward resulting in somersaults and a dazed and confused look from my baby.   (Good article about e. cunniculi a highly controversial disease and diagnosis http://www.rabbit.org/journal/3-2/e-cuniculi.html ) .  When we first experienced this ailment,  I’d Googled “head tilt” and never got to the part identifying back leg paralysis as another common symptom, because my two rabbits with e. cunniculi didn’t experience that. E. Cunniculi is a very, very horrifying disease to watch manifest, but it is not in and of itself typically deadly. My husband and I spent this heart wrenching night fighting a mirage of death.

IMG_3028Throughout the ordeal, I never railed against God. He has His plan and it is beyond my comprehension; theoretically I get that.  So I focused my wrath on those who lost the original plan for the rest of us.

That same day, my sister-in-law, a pastor, posted on FaceBook:

“Prayer is not a way to draw Yahweh’s attention to your needs. It is a way to draw your attention to how much you need HIM.

Yahshua said, “Your Father knows the things you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8”

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Like the Phoenix, Mystic rises, again. “I may be nine, but its not my time.”

I really needed God and He taught me, yet again, that very humbling lesson:  I do not possess the knowledge of the universe or even the knowledge of my rabbit’s little world. Only He does.

But since God is a loving God there was a lovely take home prize. Millennia before the store existed, God designed the Ikea Effect (my blog on this subject  http://wp.me/p13Md6-Ji ) that explains that we value more that which we labor over.  Adam and Eve never nursed a sick child, pet or even a plant back to health. Maybe that’s why they didn’t place enough value on their Eden.  So I got the lesson and a prize  – my rabbit is recovering, and my heart has grown greater in its ability to love both the rabbit and God which is all good. And maybe at least a little bit, I pity Adam and Eve for the lack of the depth of their love.  I just wish I could be a quicker and more thorough student so I didn’t have to repeat lessons.

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I’m looking forward to a good night sleep one of these days. Mystic on the other hand hasn’t missed a nap.

©2013 by Alison Colby-Campbell

4 responses to “Paradise Lost – Every Time We Lose A Pet

  1. Great job. Beautifully written.

  2. Rich Coco thank you so much for your comment. Alison

  3. Mystic reminds me of my Gilligan (RIP). Big beautiful white bunny. I so understand the drama of staying up all night with a sick bunny and waiting for the vet to open. This post is quite a few months old. Hope she’s doing okay.

    • Hi Vaganonde Mystic is still with me though she never regained the use of one of her back legs. She’s been having tough times, and we had her back at the vet’s a week ago with our two other rabbits for annual check ups and we learned that though she’s decrepit enough to make our very vested vet sigh when she saw her, her body functions are good, her teeth have actually improved, and she still seeks attention and food which we can ony believe means she has quality of life. Evry day I am so happy to have her with me but I know that cant be a forever thing.

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