Wednesday, April 14, 2010

George

If you are my friend on facebook, you are probably aware of the fact that our little bunny George died suddenly yesterday. We are not sure what happened to him. He was last seen normal on Sunday, the last day of spring break. Brigid had taken him outside to cuddle in the hammock with her and he was allowed to play in the garden, something he did several times over spring break. He seemed fine then. Usually we keep him inside. Monday, the first day back to school, was very busy. I worked overnight Sunday night and ordinarily, I would have been home from work by 8:00 Monday morning, but that day I had to stay late for a mandatory skills competency and didn't get home until 11:00am, at which point I was almost demented from exhaustion and went straight to bed and didn't get up until it was nearly time to leave for work for another twelve hour shift. Tuesday morning I went straight to bed without even glancing at George. Later, Drama Queen recalled that Tuesday was the first morning in four years that George did not come out of his nest box to greet her when she got up. She saw him lying in his cage, noted that he had food and water, and assumed he was asleep. Tuesday afternoon, just as I was waking up, Jon came into our room, distressed. "Something is going on," he said, "George is dead." This way of putting it made it seem like the death of George was a symptom of a large-scale unraveling of our lives. George, whose fuzzy little presence had been central to our lives, could not possibly be dead.

But dead he was, and Jon kindly removed his body from his cage while I succumbed to hysteria in my room. I couldn't bear to look at his body and Jon wrapped it in a towel and put it on the back porch to await burial, but his ears were protruding from the towel and I can't shake from my mind the image of those little dead ears. The kids weren't home from school and they all had to be told, and since they all arrived home at different times, there were individual sad scenes, spaced thirty minutes apart. Drama Queen was devastated since George was hers especially. From the very first day we got him, George chose her as his favorite.

My own grief was polluted with guilt. Maybe if I hadn't been working so much I'd have noticed George on Monday and taken him to the vet. To die alone is a terrible thing, even for an animal, and the cold, hard fact is that our Georgie died alone while I slept in the next room and Jon was buying drill bits at Lowe's. Did he wonder why no one came to cuddle him when he was feeling sick? Was he lonely? George, the most helpless member of our family, was central to our lives. Even our two dogs treated him with tenderness. When I was depressed I would play with George, and his innocence was what was most comforting. A dog will sense that you are upset and try to comfort you, but George wasn't sophisticated enough to bear our psychic burdens. Like an infant, he was entirely out for himself, and utterly secure that his needs would be met and this is part of what made him so appealing. And we had our little moments. I would sit on the girls' bedroom floor and fold the laundry while George hopped about and nudged the piles of clothes. When I was in nursing school, I would play with him while I studied, although he didn't like it when I paid more attention to my books than I did to him. He served as the model for countless of Drama Queen's drawings and she even wrote a children's book about him, which was supposed to be a charity project for National Honor Society, but the book turned out to be so charming we couldn't bear to give it away.



Life won't stop for a lost pet. There was dinner to get, although we weren't hungry. Drama Queen had a mandatory study group with her AP history class and we had to go to the University library for materials for her English paper. I didn't have the energy to dress myself and went about town wearing an oversized sweatshirt, which is just barely socially acceptable in Charlottesville, but I didn't care. I was magnificently cloaked in tragedy. At the library in particular, Drama Queen and I with our red eyes and sloppy clothes, got some odd looks, as if people thought we might be homeless or victims of a terrible crime. Then, confused by grief, I accidentally shredded my own credit card.

Miss G, meanwhile, had to keep score at a lacrosse game and I have this to say to the parents of the Coventry School and Charlottesville High School JV girls lacrosse teams: To those of you who chose, during the April 13th game to purposefully bully and harass the FOURTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL who was keeping score and then bitch about her behind her back, and yet within her hearing, what a bunch of ASSHOLES you are. It's not like she was wearing a sign on her back that said My bunny died today, but could you have cut her some slack, considering her youth and the fact that she had to keep score AND keep track of all the different plays and write them in a book AND her hands were numb from the cold and she could barely hold her pen AND, most importantly, she was keeping score according to what the referee said, and for you to try to try to bully her into adding more points for your team just sucks and you all suck. Seriously. So thanks for making a sad girl even sadder.

Some George pictures:



George goes exploring



George with Drama Queen

16 comments:

  1. I am so sorry about George. It's so sad when a pet dies, and sometimes sadder when no one seems to understand. The book is a beautiful memory of him. I'm especially sorry that adults can't act like adults. That part was painful to read.

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  2. I'm so sorry. I imagine that having a familiar, comforting, safe, and warm place was the most any bunny could ask for, really. It's okay. Bunbuns are so sweet and special.

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  3. I always tell people we don't have pets because I don't want or need the extra hassle of caring for them. And that is verytrue, but I think this is a big part of the reason, too. I don't deal well with loss. I'm sorry for yours.

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  4. I am so sad about George. He was such a sweet bunny. And those lacrosse parents are assholes.

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  5. I'm so sorry to hear about George. I never met him in person, but he was always very handsome in the pictures you posted. I always enjoyed reading about him.

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  6. I know exactly why you feel guilty that George died alone, because 20 years ago my cat died after an injury (that we knew about) during the night, and we found her the next morning. To this day, I still feel bad that I wasn't with her. But maybe, being an animal, she wanted to die alone?

    The bunny book is beautiful. Maybe a rabbit rescue group would want to publish it as a fundraiser?

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  7. Condolences to your family.
    Also- I am really not comfortable with those people being mean to a 14 yo no matter what the circumstances are- how do you not call the police or start yelling at people? Your restraint is admirable.

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  8. I'm sorry. That is a tough loss, especially when coupled with guilt.
    And the people at the lacrosse game are just lucky you didn't come at them swinging. I think I would have.

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  9. This is a gem of a post. Beautifully written eulogy to George, who sounds like a first class pet. The pictures show a lovely bunny and your description of his ears sticking out of the towel make me weep. You are a splendid writer--splendid. Think about writing a book, or short stories, you have the talent.

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  10. So sad about George. We had a house bunny for a few years. They are such a sweet pet. We decided not to replace him with another bunny, but got a kitten instead.

    The bunny book is beautiful.

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  11. R.I.P. George. Reminds me of the death of Swathi the sugar glider, while vacationing with us in Mississippi. Sarah spent 3 days in mourning, mostly in bed crying. The photos of your daughter's book were amazing! Surely there is some press somewhere that publishes children's books written and illustrated by (brilliant) children?

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  12. Oh sad news... he was just utterly gorgeous in both looks and manner. I've had several pets (rabbits, rats and guinea pigs) just snuff it without any warning.

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  13. RIP sweet George. I loved seeing his pictures on xanga. He made me really really want a bunny, but that was not a good idea what with a bunny-killing cat in the house.

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  14. I would like to add my condolences also. It's devastating to lose a pet, and more so to lose one with a hint of tragedy. I'll never forget my friend who accidentally contributed to the death of her parrot who died in her arms, or my mother's grief when her cat also passed away alone while she was at work. She's still not over it, and likely will not be for a long time. Losing a pet, be it a bunny a ferret a parrot or a fish is never easy, but to love animals is to know death and as such we must treat it as the part of life that it is. I console myself with the fact that we'll see each other again.

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  15. Aw, poor George. I remember when you first brought him home; he seemed like such a sweet bunny even in pictures.

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  16. Hey Mrs. Bartels, It's Emily Baxter. I know this is super late because Gracie told me shortly after it happened, but I'm sorry to hear about it. He's was so adorable. I remember how much he loved it if you put his front paws on your knees and he stretched out on your legs and you scratched his back. On the bright side maybe him and Clover are playing in heaven right now. You never know :)

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