I turn my back to the wind
To catch my breath
Before I start off again.
Driven on without a moment to spend
To pass an evening with a drink and a friend
I let my skin get too thin
I'd like to pause
No matter what I pretend
Like some pilgrim
Who learns to transcend
Learns to live as if each step was the end
It was Easter in England. It was Easter everywhere I suppose but we had just landed in England, about to start our grand Footie adventure. Early in the afternoon, a text came from Lily: An egg had hatched! Easter arrived, bringing with it new life! Hope everlasting! We were tickled.
From across the world, I could feel Lily's excitement as nine peeps hatched that week; I sensed her worry as three almost died and her relief when they were nursed to good health by my faithful mom and Best-Neighbor-Ever. I mourned for her heartbreak when one of them did not survive and she buried it by herself next to the shed and wept...for hours.
My mom cried from Florida, sad she was not still there to comfort and console. Lily cried in western PA, discouraged that the roosters would kill one of their own. I sighed, tears held back, helpless in England. Actually, helpless no matter where. Life can be cruel. But one thing that this life has taught me is that no matter how cruel, life goes on, even amidst sadness and death. We cannot hold onto what we have, what we had, what is to come. But those valleys give rise to great mountains.
(Time stand still)
I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
(Time stand still)
See more of the people and the places that surround me now
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each impression a little bit stronger
Freeze this motion a little bit longer
England was a fantastic blur (that I hope to share in a picture-post on a different day) and there were many moments I paused, wishing I could somehow capture them and keep them with me. But it was over before we knew it and a few days after we returned from overseas, I went out to the barn to tend to the peeps and found that our bunny, Morgan, had given birth to five kits. They were cold and lifeless.
Five. Dead. Bunnies.
Shocked and a wee bit panicky, I texted my Best-Neighbor-Ever and she said she'd be right over. I began removing their damaged bodies from the cage. Only two of the kits seemed like they could have been viable. The others had been trampled and were damaged beyond repair. I held one under the heat lamp. Maybe if they just warmed up they'd come back to life. Maybe they were alive and just very deep sleepers. Maybe I was ridiculously hopeful; hopeful that somehow I was mistaken. But how would I tell the girls? Should I even tell them? Did they need to know this? The kits did not move. There were no detectable heartbeats.
"I don't even know what to do," I confessed to my friend, moving in slow motion as if in a dream.
"Well, we should bury them," she offered, not wanting to look at the little bodies in front of us.
"You're right, " I agreed, gathering up the supplies and bundling up the babies.
We buried the bunnies next to our back coop and added a stone to mark their grave. The girls wept upon hearing the news, hearts broken in pieces. But, life somehow manages to keep moving forward.
That night, I made the mistake of scouring the internet for information to help me process the dead bunnies and stumbled upon a post from someone who had "brought cold bunnies back to life" by warming them up. I was sick to my stomach. Did I just kill bunnies that could have been saved?!?!?!
I kept reading, looking for other examples. Most of what I read told about young rabbit mothers often failing to keep a first litter alive; about how frequently first litters are dead upon being born, etc. But I kept coming back to the thought that I could have saved them. After tormenting myself for over an hour, I grabbed a flashlight and headed out back. Almost midnight, it was dark and beginning to snow. I grabbed the shovel and went to the grave thinking that mama rabbits bury their babies to help keep them warm, maybe burying them helped keep them alive. I stuck the shovel into the ground and as I was about to turn over the soil I had a moment of clarity.
I texted my friend about it in the morning:
Me: So, it took everything I had to NOT dig those bunnies up last night.
I watched this video about a guy who revived dead bunnies by warming them up. I KILLED THE BUNNIES! Seriously, three of them were irreparably damaged but the other two were just perfect, you know, outside of being cold and lifeless....
OMG! I HELPED you kill the bunnies!
Well, there were far more articles saying that first time rabbit moms often give birth to dead litters.
Let's go with that.
Even this morning I thought maybe they would still be okay since rabbit moms bury their bunnies to keep them safe and warm. But Kurt said that if I brought them back now they'd probably be like zombie/vampire bunnies and come eat us.
And the girls would be confused and horrified.
See my dilemma? I actually went out at almost midnight to check on the rabbits and then dig up the bunnies. But then I stopped and said: Wait, this is INSANE!
Stick with that. This is insane. Dead is dead.
Yes, it is.
But will you come dig me up after I die to see if I come back as a zombie vampire?!! After all, that's what friends are for.
I told you she is the best!
Time has not stood still, try and try as we might....we cannot force it to do so. But in those moments of grief, time seems to move so slowly that one can only believe that that moment will last forever and joy has ceased to exist.
Not more than a couple weeks would go by before the tiniest Silkie peep hatched whom the girls named Biddy May. The next day, Bingo, our beloved one-eyed duck, was killed by the neighbors Doberman. Once again, Best-Neighbor-Ever came to help dig a hole. Sadly, we are getting to be old pros at this.
"On the bright side, we know we can dig a lot deeper now," she offered.
(Husbands be warned.)
My children have learned the joy of new life, and the heartbreak when it is over. We have learned the art of burying the dead and of saying goodbye. With each feathery or furry friend, a little more innocence chips away. But such is life.
I just hope the burials get easier.
We bought these pretty lighted flower and globe ornamental garden stakes to mark the graves and as I was sticking them into the ground, Madeline asked, "Wait! Are you sure you are not impaling their heads?"
"No, I know where they are buried and I am not impaling them."
"Oh good," she said. "Because it just doesn't seem right to impale someone's head, even if they are already dead."
And the eulogies are even worse. As Madeline said some words over Bingos grave, it took everything I had not to burst into giggles:
"Family and friends, we are gathered here today to bury our mostly loved duck, Bingo.....who only had one eye and was blind in the other, so really, he had no working eyes. But we loved him anyway because we saved him when no one else wanted him and he was going to be killed by the farmer. And we kept him alive a year longer than he would have had and he lived a happy life here, but maybe sometimes he was sad because he couldn't see a thing. And that is how he died: He made a mistake and wandered into the neighbor's yard where he was eaten by their dog and he will never do that again. So, farewell Bingo. We will miss you walking in circles. Have a nice life in heaven."
Lily wept out a little more of that childhood innocence. Our sister-like friend hugged her then suggested they go play.
Life went on and we ate chocolate and everything was essentially okay.
Summer's going fast, nights growing colder
Children growing up, old friends growing older
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away
Experience slips away...
The innocence slips away