Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Work of Days

Some days are meant for life, and others death.

Today belonged to death.

My grandfather's funeral was meaningful and comforting. The service reflected his unique character and gave testament to the loving community of which he had been a vital part. Musician, story-teller, WWII veteran, he was a man of puckish character and unmatched generosity. He lived 91 years, vitality at last succumbing to the damage caused by mesothelioma (asbetos-produced cancer).

After hours filled with memories and family, we arrived home late, in the dark. Amidst the chore of unpacking, mind still netted in the frantic pace of the days leading up to the funeral, my husband called me outside.

The neighborhood cat had another rabbit.

My husband had our dogs and couldn't intervene himself.

I hesitated for a moment, wondering why I'd encountered this moment twice and what I would do with two wild rabbits in the house. Still full of questions I headed out into the night.

The cat was nestled against a small apartment building, its pale fur revealing its hiding place among the shadowed bushes. I spoke in calm tones as I approached, the cat looked satisfied when it emerged to greet me and my skin crawled.

I picked up the cat, holding it under one arm while I scanned the ground for the rabbit. It was too dark to see, so I resorted to feeling along the ground.

My breath caught when I felt its soft fur and still body. My eyes adjusted to the dim light when I knew where to look. The rabbit's liquid obsidian eyes were wide and unblinking, its body lay limp and stretched out in the dirt. It was the same size as Dandelion who I'd just left happily munching on clover in our living room.

I was too late. There would be no saving today.

Sometimes the world moves and you stumble upon life and hope in the oddest of places. But lives end, all lives. Death reminds us that all creatures are fragile beings, born to have an end, and all we can do in the face of death is breathe, reflect, and walk on.

5 comments:

  1. You gave me goosebumps. That was haunting and beautifully written.

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  2. Thanks, Tricia. That means a lot to me.

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  3. My youngest daughter saved three tiny rabbits after their mother was killed by the hawk who torments the crows and pigeons in the park down the street. She kept them in an unused aquarium, named them Jumper, Juniper, and Juice. Sadly, only Juice survived the week, and when he was a little bigger, she released him in the backyard and would not allow anyone to mow the grass until he was big enough to move on. That took about a month as I recall--the grass was very long. For some reason, the death and suffering of rabbits is a recurring image in my short stories. I enjoyed reading your experiences, but I can't help finding the hunting cat as moving and beautiful an image as the suffering, dying rabbit.

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  4. I agree - the cat and the rabbit both have roles to play. It's a sublime, if macabre, dance.

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