It’s two years since our bunny Blackie ‘joined the angels’, as Maria likes to say.
Her passing was instrumental to this journey of ours.
Planned years and years ago, our departure was always conditional on Blackie, an integral part of our household, ‘not being around anymore’, as we euphemistically phrased it.
The plan was, I would leave IBM in September 2016, Maria would leave her permanent government post a year later, then we would stay put as long as Blackie was alive.
As it turned out, Blackie developed a tumour in November 2015. Shortly after we returned from a trip to Brazil in February 2016, her quality of life had reached the point where we had to say goodbye.
We were devastated. Grief-stricken. Neither of us could go to work for a week. Without Blackie around…
‘How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!’ – Hamlet
…so we felt. That was it, we thought. Our hearts weren’t really into working any more. We began to plan our escape in earnest from this point in time.
We originally found Blackie abandoned by her previous owners in a park near our house on a freezing cold January day. We’d been Jonesing for a pet and she just turned up at the right time. ‘Luckiest day in her life’, people would say later. Luckiest day in ours, we think.
- Funny Blackie story – ever since learning she was a year-old female, we never though of her as anything but ‘she’, a little princess. But for ten years, our closest friends and family regularly referred to her as ‘him’ and ‘he’. Maybe people connect rabbits with males, as in ‘Peter Rabbit’ and ‘Bugs Bunny’.
We took her everywhere with us. For instance, to the cottage every weekend from spring to fall.
In her first year with us, her front left paw became paralyzed and she suffered from seizures. We drove her to the Vet Sciences lab of the University of Montreal for an MRI. (Have you ever tried to get an MRI for a rabbit? Available in only 2 places in eastern Canada – Guelph and Ste. Hyacinthe, both connected to university vet science faculties.)
This condition couldn’t be treated, but it never got worse. She got around quite well on three limbs.
Very educational, living with a free-range bunny. She loved chewing stuff – carpets, bedsheets, clothing – and we learned to take it in stride.
We learned a lot about rabbit psychology. We learned what a binky is.
God, we were ga-ga about that bunny. Not a day went by in ten long years that we didn’t get a kick out of having Blackie with us.
We still exchange anecdotes about Blackie. We shake our malaria medicine container and are instantly reminded of how Blackie would rush to us from anywhere in the house whenever she heard this sound – to her, it meant she was about to get a papaya pill, a treat for her because they were sweet and chewy.
If she were still alive, we’d still be in Ottawa. She’s with us still in memory.