Rocky died yesterday.
We at the farm are uncertain of the cause until my boss (a veterinarian) can perform a necropsy. Rocky was the farm rabbit. He was docile and sweet, but came from a neighboring farm at which he was once "free-range." My boss' granddaughter saw and played with him every time he ended up at our farm. Eventually, she and a friend just decided to keep him at our farm in a hutch. Unfair and sad, my friends and I think, but they are only children and they took good care of him as a kept pet. He must have missed being free, though. I would have.
So, when Rocky passed on recently, I cleaned out his pen and hutch and left it at that. I didn't expect the poor girl to be oblivious of the death. Someone, I had thought, would call and tell her. It's not something you want to hear over the phone, but it's probably worse to come looking for him, ready to build him and his prospective mate (Rocky was going to stud...something I don't agree with, but, anyway...) a larger hutch, only to find it empty and devoid of any past life. I felt for the poor girl, too. I stepped outside of the barn to toss out a bucket of water and turned to find her making a bee line for my dry shoulder. She soggyed it up for me. What else could I do but hug her and console her with silence and understanding?
The acceptance of Death is something I inherently knew early on in my life. Perhaps I was a morbid child. (I did prefer my Ghostbusters action figures over my sister's Barbie Dolls and used to torture worms and inscets.) Perhaps it was just something I'd carried over from a former incarnation. I remember the funerals of two great-grandparents. Dry eyes and a heavy heart were what I wore to both. I knew that I was looking at dead people and gravestones. I knew that they were family members of mine. I didn't know one, and the other might as well have been the same for what the Alzheimers' took from him. Maybe this was why I had no tears? Yet, my heart was full of sorrow and love for these people I didn't know and saddness for those I did.
Every drive home from my maternal grandparents' house brought tears to my eyes and a worry that became acceptance as I matured. Luckily, no one saw my damp cheeks and I was able to deal with the concept of impending death on my own. Those carrides allowed me to think. Everyone dies. We are not immortal, and, besides, who would want that? I knew, eventually, those grandparents, the people I loved so high above most of my other family members, would someday die. I would have more funerals to attend and more sorrow to address. This is simply how the Circle flows.
We are born, we live, we die and make rich the soil so that another may live then die and return to the Earth.
So, as I grew into maturity, acceptance of Death came naturally. (Little did I know that my maternal grandmother would forget me, her family and herself, and my paternal grandfather would forget himself and his surroundings.) This is not to say that I don't cry when a lose a family member or beloved pet (Goddess Bless You in the Summerlands, Abracadabra), but the knowledge of what will come to us all has made it easier to travel the paths I choose in life and cherish those I meet for the love we share, lessons I learn or teach and enlightenment I attain.
All of this in my mind, and it still came as a surprise to me when I asked an hour or so later how Rocky's girl was dealing with his death. "I'm okay, now." Of course, she meant that she wasn't going to burst into tears at the mere mention of his name, but she had been with her father when she found out and they went on with their plans for a new hutch (which she then described as if her fuzzy, little friend were still lying on his back in her arms as he so often did.)
Thirteen is a tough year, but it is still so innocent and hopeful. When, exactly do we lose this resilience? When do we stop accepting the pasage of time and assume Death will simply forget about us or our loved ones? Why can't we embrace the final breath and see it as an opportunity? These are questions that will only be answered when we travel to the Summerlands. There we will find answers to questions we cannot solve in this lifetime.
Or will we?