This past week has seen the death of one of my cousins and our family rabbit. The former died from cancer in her 50's, the latter from unknown causes. My cousin had been ill for a whiile and it was expected she would die but it still comes as a shock when it happens. The rabbit was fine in the daytime but died peacefully (it seemed from his expression at least) in the night.
Due to the fact that we have seen very little of my cousin (only family funerals ironically) the past twenty years means that the death of our rabbit has had the greater impact of the two. Life is strange like that... the death of a pet being more upsetting than that of a relative. I guess it goes to show that modern life, with so many families living dipersed lives across the globe, means that friends, work colleagues and even family pets can seem closer than family. Sad but true.
The strange thing is that though the rabbit seemed fine all day, running around the garden as usual (he went into his hutch only at night and often came in the house of an evening), he became very calm in the evening, content to sit on my lap for long periods (usually he is up and off after a few minutes). I even, and this is totally not my normal behaviour, allowed my daughter to go to sleep with him on her bed. I took him to his hutch after she had gone to sleep and he seemed ok apart from being unusally thirsty. In the morning I found him stretched out, dead but still warm. I broke the sad news to the family with tears in my eyes (yes I cried) and then buried him at the end of the garden, not far from our three guinea-pigs.
So goes family life and I suppose it helps the children realise that death is part of life. Nevertheless, we miss him deeply. I miss my cousin too. She was a larger than life character and though we saw so little of one another in the past two decades, I will never forget her.