Late, I ran out the back door to go pick up AB from gymnastics.
And there... on the back stoop... a bunny.
Not a rabbit.
A small (but not tiny), half-cat sized bunny. Sweet and very broken. Stiff, with some entrails exposed - only enough to know that this was no gentle battle. Killed dramatically and violently by the "good cat," the cat, at 11 months, still referred to mostly as "Kitten."
In a rush, I quickly wrapped the bunny in newspaper from the recycling bin, and placed her in the garbage can, on top of the trash.
After dinner, Bass, for the first time in his nine years on planet Earth said, "I'll take out the trash, Mom."
My response was swift and suspicious.
I had, after all, a body concealed in the back yard.
That bunny body continued to haunt me through night reading and dinner eating and bath drawing and bandaid applying and bedtime.
What the heck would I do with it?
Before living here, we lived in Florida, on a school campus. Adjacent to a canal on two sides, a nature preserve on a third. We had access to a dumpster, and an outdoor cat. Over the years that dumpster received many things - rats, both whole and scattered; mice; fish heads. And once, a very large and very dead iguana. I had no problem tossing those in and forgetting about them.
Here, with a different cat, we have had a mole, a couple mice, several baby snakes. Once, a chipmunk, which was a little sad. Each, unceremoniously thrown into the Curbie. Probably put first in a plastic bag - but ultimately garbage, nonetheless.
But this...this was a small rabbit. A bunny.
My sister calls me "Bun" and refers to my children and hers as "the bunnies." My daughter has bunny prints on her walls. Bass' baby quilt, that he still sleeps with at 9, is covered in them. Because it was made for him by his godmother, his first baby sign was "rabbit," and it was both how he asked for his quilt and how he referenced his Aunt Agatha.
Before we bought this house, I drove by it at night, and a bunny was hopping across the yard. When we moved in, we saw one again - days after sleeping in it the first time. One hopped past on Easter eve looking frantic, like it was 'on the clock.'
Bunnies don't go in trash cans.
Maybe we could have a small funeral. The littles could learn something about love and death and symbolism and animal instincts and the temporal nature of beauty. We could bury the young rabbit together, sing a hymn or "Rainbow Connection."
They would be solemn.
We could say prayers. Pick roses from the rose bushes. Each softly pet one ear. Bury the bunny with a carrot, and something else bunnies love best, like the burial of an Egyptian god king. (We would no doubt have a long discussion about what that something else might be, knowing, as we do, scant little about the aesthetic preferences of bunnies.)
Bass would be either curious and scientific, "can I dig it up when it's bones?" Or oddly dramatic, emerging after bed while we are settled into Lost bawling about "I feel bad for that poor bunny. Why do we have Kitten anyway? I NEVER KNEW THAT BUNNY!"
pPod would be matter-of-fact, with a stream of questions. "Is 'dead' like being asleep, Momma? Will that bunny eat that carrot in heaven? Was Chessie trying to eat that bunny?" It would become That Bunny, and the questions would continue for years: "Remember, Momma? When Chessie killded That Bunny and we buried it? Member?"
Ah, but Annabeth. She would be conflicted, possibly devastated. She would feel betrayed by Chessie, the heretofore love of her life. She would want to wrap the bunny in a silk scarf. She would ask if she could do that, and I would find it hard to say no. She would draw something for the bunny, to place in her shoebox. She would give Chessie hurt sidelong glances for weeks - maybe years. She would say, softly, "She didn't mean it, right, Momma? It's just what cats do?" But it would be unconvincing.
After everyone was successfully bedded, I heaved a big sigh and trudged to the garage. I got the edger. I lifted the stiff broken thing in its paper wrapper out of the trash. With the edger, I dug a hole, while in my pajamas. Through pine straw, an inch of soil, three inches of red clay. Chunks of construction waste. I went down 8, 10 inches. A foot. I placed her in. I layered in the debris. I patted it down. I scattered the straw on top.
I waved to the neighbors (and made a few "edging" moves, as if, well, maybe I'm out doing a little inspirational gardening... in my pajamas... at late dusk...)
There will be plenty of small, soft, broken things. Things we can bury together. Teachable moments that come from soothing the child that found the thing, no longer warm and soft and woodland-creature-esque.
But not tonight. Tonight, there was no reason to drag them into my small sadness.
Sleep well, little bunnies.