My musician friend, David, is traveling with a band that's traveling with the band, Live, and he asked me, you know Live or were you too young at the height of their popularity? And I said, I have a distinct memory of their song about placenta falling to the floor blaring out of someone's car in my high school parking lot because that placenta line always sat very poorly with me. The song, which I heard just yesterday while running in the gym next to an old man who could barely walk, is about a mother giving birth in one room and an old woman dying in the next. The old woman's soul-- and, according to the song, problems-- lift out of her and rush into the new baby. A horrifying idea, I think, although the band chooses to treat the transfer romantically in the song.
I'm four minutes away from turning twenty-eight and behind me my rabbit is lying in her hutch, dying, but I don't know how quickly. On Tuesday we went to the vet and he turned out the lights and put up her x-ray. "Do you see this area?" he asked, circling around the image of her upper chest with his finger, indicating a white, glowy area. "We should be able to see her heart. The tumor is so big that I can't make out any of it."
"When she stops eating," he said, "you'll know."
I have a very casual relationship with death, particularly personal decisions about one's own death that remain separate from the biological axe and particularly-particularly assisted death for people with terminal or even just debiliating illnesses. So for the past few days, this morning especially, I've been staring into my rabbit's eyes, trying to figure out how shitty she feels even if she's still eating every carrot and piece of lettuce I put in front of her. And, as dopey as this sounds, I've been trying to figure out what she wants. Does she want me to put her down before it all really goes to shit? Right now her day mostly consists of lying on her stomach, breathing heavier than before, half-sleeping. Does that count for her as really shitty, or is it just experienced as a change in lifestyle? Does she want me to wait until she can't take it anymore-- not in any conscious, human way, but in the sense that animals seem to handle their own dying practices and cave into death in their own time? Is she just wake-dreaming her way through this? Or can she pretty much take or leave the days from here on out, meaning that I should help her leave?
Now I'm nine minutes into twenty-eight, and she's cleaning her face, eight and a half years into her existence. "Grooming is a good sign," said the vet. "She won't groom when she's ready to go." Ready to go implies something totally different from about to die.
Once when my dad and I were visiting my grandfather toward the end of his life and staring into the depths of a full bag of urine, which he'd defeatedly hung on the outside of his clothes, my dad said, "Andrea, if it ever comes to that, I want you to shoot me."
She doesn't make sounds like a dog or a cat would.
She really, really, really likes lettuce.
I look at her, and I don't know what to do because I have zero understanding if or how she senses there's anything to be done. Taken a half-hour ago (what the fuck is that eye saying?):