“that split second, that thin line between breathing and not breathing”
I look out the window and cry. I see three bunnies grooming themselves and each other. Having watched my own child die, being present and bearing witness to his final breath, I agree with Barbara.
I believe Ewan’s soul left his body in that split second when he died. His soul left and only the body remained. And I believe I know where his soul went.
It is on our back porch. A part of his soul lives in a caramel-colored bunny that is chewing through the railing on our back porch. Wait… what?
We weren’t supposed to have that ginger bunny. When we were rescuing rabbits being sold for meat in the market, it all happened fast, lightning fast. It was a snap decision to buy bunnies. We were on an escape holiday, in another country, 5,412 miles away from home. But, dammit, my vegetarian, animal-loving daughter needed to save those bunnies. Who rescues rabbits and brings them home as vacation souvenirs? We do. We returned to the meat section. I said, “Dame dos.”
The leather-tanned vendor, in her sunhat and denim, picked out a gray one and a black one. She inspected their gender then dropped them into a cardboard box. Rapid-fire Spanish words were exchanged between our guide, Miguel, and the vendor. Miguel explained that she insisted on selling them as male and female pair. We asked him how old they were. He asked her. Before he translated her response, I understood. “Siete semanas.” Seven weeks.
My daughter glowed with excitement at saving two, sweet animals. And yet, something was sinking in me. It did not feel right. I said, “Uno mas, We want that one, too”, pointing to a fluffy golden one, with hair the color of straw. She dipped her hand in the cage and clutched it. Drawing it close, she rolled it over and said, “Macho.”
I paid five Peruvian soles per bunny, then we bolted, as if one second longer and we might all be tossed into a boiling soup, with one of the thousands of types of potatos.
My daughter chose Quechua names, since we were in Peru. The grey one became Yaku (water) and the black bunny was named Nina (fire). As for the macho we weren’t supposed to get, my daughter named him Pacha, which means ‘earth’.
She often remarks that Pacha is an old soul. He has deep and dark eyes that sparkle. He is spirited and curious-our buck-toothed, interminable carrot eater. He makes us laugh and sigh with delight. I’ve never seen a rabbit express empathy and compassion before.
If he was seven weeks old when we rescued him, which I believe, it means he was born the same week my eight-year-old macho died. My darling with shaggy, golden hair the color of straw. The one who made me laugh and was curious enough to get a bean stuck in his nose. My buck-toothed baby who loves carrots sticks and chocolate cake.
I look out the window and cry.
I see Ewan.