You know that John Lennon line about how life is what happens when you’re busy making plans?
Life happened. Well, not exactly.
My soon-to-be 9-year-old son had a pet bunny named Junior — Junior America Carroll, to be exact.
Junior lived in a nice pen out in the backyard with a hutch and lots of hay. He used to live in the house, but (a) he could eat through multiple power cords in seconds flat, and (b) we were all deathly allergic to him.
Unfortunately, Junior was an accomplished escape artist. He had escaped from his pen numerous times, resulting in many elaborate (previously successful) efforts to catch him. For example, during one of our rare Dallas snow storms last winter, we had to enlist the dogs to help us round Junior up. We all took turns slipping on the ice, too.
Then there was the time we were out of town and our "apparently a little too young" pet sitter didn’t notice that she never actually saw Junior and that his food just kept piling up in the pen (granted, she didn’t know Junior was a total pig who never missed a meal).
We’re pretty sure he was "at large" for days, and had actually made his way into our neighbor’s backyard. It took three grown men and me over an hour to track him down and catch him in the easement behind our yards.
I imagine that at this point my use of past-tense when referring to Junior has led you to figure out that he isn’t with us anymore. Somehow, last night Junior managed to escape from his pen during a thunderstorm. Tonight, when Aidan went to feed him, he wasn’t there.
> I was driving home from work when I got his frantic phone call. I told him I’d be home soon.
"Thank you," he replied tearfully.
When I arrived my husband flagged me down, stone-faced in the driveway. Junior was dead. There has been a hawk hanging around the backyard lately. I’m guessing it was either him or maybe one of the local bobcats that got him.
Aidan was a mess. Perry, my 6-year-old, less so. It seems to hit him in spurts, punctuated by whatever is happening in Mario world on his DS. Junior was definitely Aidan’s pet. He actually caught him, in stereotypical fashion, by using a carrot.
It went something like this …
The kids were staying at my mom’s house two years ago while I was at a conference in Seattle. I get this random phone call one day, and it’s Aidan.
"Mom," said the cute voice from Nanny’s house. "I found this bunny and I love him. Can I keep him?"
"OK," I said, guilt stricken because, well, there I was having the time of my life without him at this conference, in a great town with a bunch of friends.
Knowing full well I’m deathly allergic to rabbits I said, "I’ll figure out a way to make it work."
Junior had been hopping around my parent’s yard, a stray bunny. Aidan devised a trap using an old cage and a carrot. Junior, being the food hound that he is, hopped into the cage and Aidan shut the door.
Subsequent to being caught, he escaped from various enclosures at my parent’s house twice, being recaptured by Aidan each time. Finally, my mom decided to have him boarded at the local vet clinic to prevent further breakouts.
He lived in my house for awhile. He chewed through I don’t know how many lamp cords, phone cords, laptop cords, stereo wires. It’s a miracle he didn’t get electrocuted. No matter how hard I tried to bunny proof the house, he managed to find things to chew. That, coupled with the fact that Aidan was sick for three months straight, resulted in Junior’s fancy pen in a super shady spot in our backyard.
Aidan’s one job was feeding Junior his greens and a carrot every day. He took it very seriously and was very conscientious about making sure Junior didn’t escape. He loved his bunny.
So we all have a heavy heart this evening. The kids decorated his little headstone, and he was buried with a carrot and some parsley.
I said a few words for him and I asked Aidan if he wanted to say some too. He said he was too sad, and would say them inside his head.
He made me promise to write Junior’s story in my blog.
God, I’m so choked up writing this. There is nothing worse in the world than when your baby is hurting. At bedtime he said that if he had one wish, it would be to bring back his bunny.
Right now, that would be mine too.
Dr. Vivian Cardoso-Carroll
Pic of the day: Junior America Carroll by Aidan