As I held my bunny for the last time, I couldn’t help but think about Will Gardner.
I read that when the writers of The Good Wife decided to have Will die, they didn’t want it to be a typical television death, they wanted it to be abrupt, like real life.
Real life is shocking. It takes you by surprise.
One moment you are at home catching up on email, and the next moment you are driving like a crazy person down North Ave – one hand on your pet, one hand on the wheel, doing everything you can to get to the veterinarian.
Then you are told that there is nothing that they can do, that it was unavoidable. Even though you brought him in the day before, even though he was eating two days before, these things happen, regardless of how unpredictable.
Then my thoughts go from Will Gardner to ultrasounds with no heartbeats, and phone calls that my dad is in intensive care, or hearing a doctor say that it’s time for my grandfather or my step-father-in-law to go into hospice.
They all have a similar texture, a sharp-edge kind of feel. Kind of like swallowing glass.
It doesn’t quite go down, it hurts the whole way.
Then I think about telling my girls.
It will be a defining moment for them, their first experience with this kind of shock and grief.
And it’s my job to sit with that, to allow them to scream and cry, to let them lose themselves in their feeling, to feel those sharp edges.
So that’s what I do. I sit there with them. I keep my hands on them. I don’t try to make it instantly better.
Because that’s not true, that’s not real life.
We have to feel it, go through it, accept it.
Today my friend Josh posted this quote – “Being patient doesn’t mean you wait for tomorrow. It means you allow what is today.”
Being patient means being present for what is happening, to be awake to life.
I remember when my dad was in intensive care and things didn’t look good, I told my mom that I didn’t think I would ever be happy again.
She actually laughed a little and said I would be happy again, but I had to do this first.
To get back to happy, sometimes we have to endure the sharp edges. We have to allow for the pain.
Pain is a reminder that something meaningful was lost. Pain is a reminder that we loved.
For days I’ve been telling my girls that I’ve been here before, I know what to do. When I cry and I see their worried looks, I remind them that this is a process. For me, for all of us.
Seeing my bunny’s face on my Facebook page, or seeing his hay in our closet, or finding his fur on the chair feels like swallowing glass again, and it necessitates my tears and my ability to breathe through it.
I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, but I am patient. I’ve learned to trust this process.
I don’t want to teach my girls to avoid pain at all costs, I want to teach them that pain is a part of life, and it is something they can endure.
Loving anything necessitates risk taking.
So we talk about him, we decide to leave his cage up for a little bit, we discuss how we will always be connected to him. We hug a lot.
I tell them that the sharp edges will someday soften, but we have to be patient with ourselves today.
Both intense love and intense grief wake us up to who we are, what is most important, the choices we make.
And I am so glad we made the choice to bring Greeley into our home. To watch him live in our family room and wander around the house.
To see him sit with the girls when they didn’t feel good, to watch him stay calm as groups of kids pet him and loved him.
To watch him enjoy a piece of banana, to see him jump up in the air as a sign of happiness.
Allergic reactions to dogs and cats kept me from having a pet, but adopting this little grey bunny helped me heal years of wishing.
I loved taking care of him; I loved seeing him every morning. I saw his face in every other animal. I became more compassionate toward all living things.
I am heartbroken to lose him. I was lucky to love him. The risk is worthwhile.
Greeley was adopted from Red Door Shelter. Please consider making a donation (even small donations help!), and mention that it’s in honor of Greeley (they loved him, too!). Click here to donate.