Ten-year old Grace chatted as we walked the dog this morning. She is usually chatty and I’m usually groggy. Maybe because she was so busy talking she didn’t notice the bunny until after I’d yanked the dog off the sidewalk. I didn’t want her to see it at all but it was too late.
All at once, she saw the bunny laying in the vines and dirt next to the walkway. I looked closer, too, and saw that the bunny was still wiggling–at least its head and upper body were. The rest of it seemed broken.
My heart sank. Grace stared at the bunny. She begged me to help it, she wanted me to use the pink plastic bag I carried for the dog’s waste to scoop up the stricken bunny so we could carry it back to her bedroom where she could nurse it to health. She suggested we wrap gauze around its legs to help it feel better.
I wanted to look away from the bunny. She wanted to draw closer and help.
“Grace,” I said, “There’s nothing we can do.”
Circle of life and all that. I told her the bunny would probably be hurt more if we moved it. I told her we didn’t have a safe place for a hurt bunny. Finally, I said we needed to move on and continue our walk. I hugged her and she cried a little and then we walked on.
After we looped around, we came back to the spot where the bunny was. It wriggled its paws and moved its head a little.
We noticed a patch of fur on the road and a bit of fur on the sidewalk. I speculated that the bunny had been hit by a car and then crawled off the road and across the sidewalk to the comfort of pine needles and vines. Or maybe it had been snatched by a hawk and then dropped. At any rate, it was alive but gravely injured.
Grace begged again for me to help the bunny, to carry it to safety. She wanted to feed it, offer it water. I really didn’t know what to do. Finally, aware of the clock and an impending appointment, I told her we’d go home and do a Google search and find out what to do.
So we hurried home and did a search and found a nearby place that rehabilitates injured wild animals–from hummingbirds to squirrels but not rats or mice. Just in case you wondered. Then the doorbell rang and the appointment person arrived and I worked for an hour and then the lady left and I rushed upstairs to shower.
Grace asked for permission to go check on the bunny and I said she could go if her brother went with her. So she woke up one of her older brothers and went down the street while I got ready.
I was almost ready to go when she came back and reported in a matter-of-fact voice that the bunny died.
“Died? How do you know?”
She said the bunny was stretched out and had his eyes wide open and he didn’t move. They poked him with a stick but he was dead.
We went back to the bunny. She wanted to be the one who picked it up with a towel and moved it away from the sidewalk. She placed it a few feet back from the sidewalk in the midst of the leafy ground-cover. I gathered some pine needles and covered that little furry body.
It was sad, so sad.
Maybe she will never believe me when I said there was nothing we more we could have done. I tried to convince her that even if we’d scooped up the bunny as soon as we’d seen it, by the time we delivered it to the wild animal rehab place it would have still died from serious injuries. If it were just a broken bone, I told her, it wouldn’t have died so quickly, so easily.
I had a box, towels, an address and would have driven that poor creature to San Diego and not just to save the bunny but to save that soft place in my daughter’s heart that cried when she encountered a small hurt being who needed someone bigger to help.
I wanted to keep faith alive in my girl, even though I doubted. I didn’t think we could make a difference to the bunny but I knew it would make a difference to my daughter.
Rest in peace, Mr. Fluffigans. (She named the bunny posthumously.) We will never forget you.