Last Tuesday, Lovely Rabbit died in Second Daughter’s arms.
That morning, Second Daughter told me before leaving for school that she was not opening Lovely Rabbit’s hutch yet, as she was asleep and she did not want to disturb her. I replied that it was fine, and that I would do it later. I did, and Lovely Rabbit was awake, but not moving around too much. She did not jump out, but nothing seemed amiss and I figured that she was finding the cold wind blowing that day not very enticing.
When Second Daughter came back from school, I gave her a few salad leaves for her rabbit. She went out on the terrace, and then I heard her panicked shout: “Mummy, she is dead!” I rushed out and found Second Daughter sitting on the floor, crying her eyes out, holding her beloved pet. She was not dead, but it was clear that something was seriously wrong. It was 13:30 and I rang our vet, even though I knew the practice would not open until 16:00. The assistant told me that she was very sorry, but that no vet was around, and that the earliest we could come was 15:30. I then rang about ten other numbers until I finally reached someone. This lady was trying to be helpful, but same thing, she would not open until 16:00. She told me to wrap Lovely Rabbit in a blanket and keep her inside and warm.
This we did, and we spent the next almost two hours sitting together on the sofa, stroking Lovely Rabbit and crying. After a while, I noticed that Lovely Rabbit was not breathing and moving anymore. I did not know how to tell Second Daughter. About an hour later, she was already rigid, and this Second Daughter noticed. I had to tell her… and I think I will never forget the look of despair on her face and her distress.
Finally, it was time to go to the vet. I was determined to go even though it was clear that she would not be able to do anything for our poor rabbit. I wanted an explanation, as I thought it would help Second Daughter. When we arrived, she took us straight away and told us that Lovely Rabbit had died of an accumulation of wind in her stomach. She asked what we had fed her and we told her, a bit of lamb’s lettuce and rabbit food. She was brilliant, I thought. She stressed to Second Daughter that is was not her fault, that the food we had given her was perfectly correct and that it was just back luck. She then said that should we have come in the morning, she could not have saved her, and the reason that rabbits have so many babies is that they are not very resilient. I was also relieved to hear that we had not done anything wrong.
We buried Lovely Rabbit in a corner of our garden, with the help of our kind neighbour, who used to look after her when we went on holiday. I was very grateful to her that she prepared the grave while we wrapped Lovely Rabbit in our prettiest tea towel. Second Daughter added a letter she had written for her, a poem, some hay and straw, a bit of rabbit food and a few conkers. She wanted to put her in the grave and she did a beautiful job of decorating it afterwards. The following day, we went together into the forest and had a little ceremony for Lovely Rabbit. On our way back, we bought some flowers and planted them on the grave. All of this was important, I think. I wanted to make sure that Second Daughter’s pain was properly acknowledged, and Lovely Rabbit having been an important part of our family, she deserved some of our time and thoughts. Sexy Hubby was also adorable, letting Second Daughter sleep with me for three nights, buying us chocolates and generally just hugging us and being there. We then visited our family in Switzerland at the weekend, and again everybody was brilliant at comforting Second Daughter… and me.
We have yet to clear her hutch and decide what we will do. But one thing at the time.