Last week, while I was staying with my family and finalizing wedding plans, I received a heartbreaking phone call from my fiance: our little deaf rabbit, Niels, had passed away in the night.
My heart sank to my stomach as I heard about how peaceful he looked in the morning, and how unexpected this had been – my fiance hadn’t noticed any difference in his behavior over the weekend, and Niels had certainly not indicated that he was having any troubles before then.
He’d always been a sickly rabbit (he was deaf and had recovered from a broken back), but he was a happy rabbit. He ate well and loved to snuggle with his “husbun” Rorschach after long days they spent exploring outside of their cage. So while it was unexpected, it made sense. But it didn’t make it any easier.
Closure: What I realized
When I drove back home the next day, I resolved to see Niels one last time. My fiance had put him in a shoebox so that we could bury him back on my parent’s land, and I needed to see his beautiful black fur. When I saw him and reached out to touch him, I realized that it wasn’t actually the still and silent body in front of me that I had loved.
It was the life he had, the life he brought to our little family every day, that I most loved and will most miss. But when I saw his tiny body, I knew that it was time to send it off – just like the other possessions I’ve been slowly passing on through my life.
The memories and happiness that his life brought me still remain, and the hole I thought he would permanently leave has already started to fill up with help from my other rabbit, my fiance, and my dear friends. I look back at pictures fondly, knowing that Niels was my little source of consistency through a period of great changes in my life.
I miss the little guy, but I feel I’ve come away from this sadness with a heart full of gratitude for the nearly five years he was with me, lighting up my darkest days with the rare, pure joy that sometimes only pets can bring.
It was a reminder to always pay attention to the littlest and simplest things, even when there are loud, big distractions trying to disconnect you from them. It was a reminder to always say a fond goodbye to your loved ones, even if you’re only gone a day. And even if they’re rabbits.