My heart feels like a flaccid orange and my mind is numb. W/out exaggeration, the past 2 days have simply SUCKED BEYOND BELIEF. YES I know I joke about a whole lot of things, but for once I am totally serious.

Yesterday morning I got into a car accident. My daughters and I are all fine. The car is okay. But I saw first-hand how emotionally charged people can be following a collision, and road rage is a DAMN good reason why handguns should be outlawed. W/out rehashing all the details, I got rear-ended. It was a stupid accident. The driver of the other vehicle did not want to be at fault. Rather than take responsibility for her error in judgment, she wanted to take it out on me. She & her large male companion threatened me repeatedly w/ bodily harm. They screamed. They cursed. I do not like being threatened. I do not like being cursed out by two enraged human beings hell-bent on being right when they are wrong. and especially NOT IN FRONT OF CHILDREN. It was ugly. Very, very ugly.

If I saw these folks on the street I’d think they were a lovely family – an attractive mom & dad w/ a beautiful little girl. But the time I spent w/ them. The threats. It was totally surreal. Is it normal for a grown woman to threaten to KNOCK ANOTHER WOMAN OUT?? I haven’t heard this kind of stuff since I was in high school – and even then, it wasn’t ever directed at me. People I know do not act like this. It’s barbaric. INSANE. People who try to look like middle-class America, driving around in a fancy SUV, dress well, and then act like street thugs? Is this real? For the LOVE OF GOD what are people doing to their kids in this day and age?? When you teach your children to hate first and think later – to play a race card – you are as good as crippling them. They will never be more than that. They will never see more than that. Here in Philly – people act. and they think too late.

I spent all day yesterday dazed. Feeling off-sorts. Saddened. angry. sad again. even scared. Trying to reconcile everything. And then, Last night, after dark, raccoons crept into our rabbit’s fenced-in pen and attacked her. We didn’t even know until after the fact. Our good friend & neighbor, Jim, saved her from being mauled. Locked her in her hutch. Broke the bad news. One look, and I knew she was hurt badly. I could see visible puncture wounds on her right side, and she wasn’t moving her one arm.

6 months ago, I spent weeks nursing this rabbit back to health via syringe feedings. You simply cannot stare into the eyes of a creature that close to death, feeding them as a child, holding them, encouraging them, without seeing them as your own. Prudence had been just this side of the pearly gates, wagging her cotton ball tail through the slats for fun. She bid adieu to St. Peter, and rejoined humanity – for what. For THIS? The indignity of being mauled by a hungry raccoon trying to feed her young. I know that God exists, and I know that nature is cruel. But the injustice is too much.

This morning the ladies and I took Prudence to the vet. I knew what they would say. I knew the options. But I took her all the same. How could I do anything else? To keep something I love in pain, safe, at home? To allow her to suffer b/c I could not bear to lose her would be abject cruelty. But taking her…. In my heart, I knew that I was leading her to death. The chance – however slim – that she had or would contract rabies from the bite. that was all that mattered. How could I live w/ myself it it happened? If she bit me. My children? My heart aches. My beloved rabbit, Prudence, my friend. Who’d been at death’s door and had overcome, blossoming into better health and spirits than she’d ever known.

I’ve written before about my love of pets, and I’ve written briefly of their loss. I’ve introduced you to several of our cast of characters – most notably, Kiwi (my crazy ass bird) – but this post… this is a tribute to Prudence.

Spring through fall, Prudence lives/d in the backyard in a wooden hutch w/ her own fenced pen. It had become sort of a joke, that she was a “free-range bunny”, b/c most days we left the gate to her pen open and she would hop in-and-out at will. Although our yard has open fencing, and Prudence could have escaped if she wanted to, she never did. The most she ever did was hop over to our next-door neighbors to sample the clover. So most days I would gaze out the kitchen window to find a Teletubbie-esque scene, with Prudence hopping from spot to spot in the yard, munching grass. Although we have a ton of cats on our block, none of them ever gave Prudence the slightest grief. In fact, the total opposite. These cats would (no joke) actually come to hang out w/ her. Our one cat Bixby would sometimes laze up on top of her hutch, and our other cat Milkshake slept INSIDE of it. Prudence seemed to think this was just fine, and somehow here in West Philly, it WAS normal. They all just got along. Different. But happy. Prudence was as close to a “wild bunny” as a totally domestic fed pet could get – she’d even felt inspired to recently begin digging a burrow in the corner of her pen, like her rabbit forebears. Somehow she just knew. She knew how. She wanted to. And it was okay.

Tonight, my heart aches. Tomorrow we will bury our sweet bunny’s remains in the burrow she’d been digging these past weeks. A fitting tribute to her work.

Dear Prudence

It’s a bit hard for me to believe it’s 2008. With the jumble of the holidays and all of the travel, by the time we got home it was already here. I came down New Year’s Day with a terrible respiratory cold, which started out as a runny nose and quickly degenerated into total head congestion, sore throat, burning sinuses and complete malaise. Oh, the malaise…. From fine to wretched in 6 hours flat. And if you can imagine all of that coming on top of the vertigo I’d already been fighting for 2-plus weeks beforehand, you can see why 2008 is just catching up to me now. Fortunately, Sunday I felt my real self beginning to break free of the chrysalis of plague, and by yesterday I was finally feeling normal again. Not wanting to crawl into a ball and sleep. BREATHING in_and_out of my nose! Dizziness, almost gone. So I’ve been trying like mad to catch up on a whole slew of things – basically life – that had to be put on hold while I was down for the count. And unfortunately, one of those things is our little rabbit, Prudence.

For those of you who don’t know me in “real life,” our family has a whole slew of pets, and I can pretty fairly be described as zookeeper. Well, last week being so sick, most of the animal tending fell to my husband and older daughter, with me doing some minor tasks, like letting some of the pets sleep on/with me. I was holding and petting Pru while watching TV on Tuesday and Wednesday and she seemed fine. Thursday I noticed she seemed a little off and wasn’t eating. Friday she didn’t eat, and by bedtime that night, she’d begun acting really weird. Normally feisty and playful, Prudence was listless to the point of being almost unresponsive. When she moved in her cage at all, she shook, palsy-like. First thing Saturday morn we took her to the ER at my husband’s work. Apparently Prudence had been ill for some time, but the vet said that rabbits have an uncanny ability to mask sickness until it’s almost too late. Definitely something to share with other rabbit owners. They diagnosed Pru as being severely dehydrated and kept her over the weekend for blood work and further testing. Yesterday afternoon we finally got to bring her home, though we could have kept her at the hospital for an ultrasound and additional diagnostics. Please don’t get me wrong when I say that in a perfect world I would like for my rabbit to be able to have an ultrasound, but in my world (replete with 1 paycheck for 2 adults, 2 human children and a barn full of other animals), rabbit ultrasounds are at the bottom of the financial priority list.

Having said that, I am so happy to be holding a most alive! and sweet Prudence! The only difficulty is that we (first my husband, and now me) have to administer liquid antibiotics for the next 19 days via a thin mouth syringe, not too hard actually, but the real kicker is the liquid feedings via large syringe. Ho boy. Let me tell you, if it comes down to this, I think it will be a miracle if my bunny gets enough food/liquid to maintain life function. The food itself isn’t revolting, in fact, quite the opposite. The powdered “herbivore critical care diet” has the most pleasant smell – like a cross between fresh hay and anise. And we mix it with vanilla protein shake, similar to what they give patients in hospital for calorie-rich consumption. But it’s just so HARD to get her to eat it. First we have to lay a bath towel down on the floor, then wrap her up in it like a bunny burrito. Then you have to cradle her football-like in one arm, whilst maneuvering the syringe into her (most unwilling) mouth and then squirting it in. The feedings go in drips and drabs, with most of the food being wiped off her face. And trust me, you have to wipe it off because if you don’t it will congeal and then harden cement like on her fur. Then there’s NO getting it off.

You can just SEE how much this rabbit loves this process. And me, well doing this 2-3 times a day is reaaaallly fun.