And, so, a couple days on, it's getting to feel ... still not at all real. It's ridiculous to think that Columbo's dead. It's offensive. And it keeps hurting, in all these little stabby moments when I walk through the living room and think where I'd be diverting to look at or talk to or pat him, or rattle his toys, or shake his dish of pellets around so he condescends to eat a few more. Or be in the kitchen in the early afternoon or past midnight and thinking it's time to feed him.
There are two bizarrest things. One is how it hurts more afterwards than it did at the time. I suppose there's an explanation there. On the day he died everything happened so fast. He went from ``he's acting a little sluggish'' to ``he's dying'' to ``if we don't euthanize him he'll die anyway, but in pain'' too fast to have a reaction. Now we can sit and think about the years we expected to have and feel cheated of them.
And the other bizarrest thing is how much it hurts. If it isn't as much as it hurts from when we lost Stephen it's close. It's much harder than we imagined. We liked Columbo, certainly. But we hadn't realized how much we'd loved him and how much he was part of our lives. We hadn't had as much time to weave him into ourselves as we had with Stephen and it was easy, before, to think we hadn't woven him so. To have him ripped out so shows how much closer we were. The pain also must feel harsher because of the suddenness of it. Stephen we'd known was near his death, for a long time. We had months to prepare for the day we might come downstairs and see he had passed in the night. His last weeks were ones of thinking it was so precious he was still soldiering on, tinted by the doubt we were keeping him going for any reason besides how much it would hurt to lose. Columbo, we knew, was probably five years, possibly older, but we never thought seriously that he was anywhere near his end. The pain was as sharp as it could be.
And we're filled with thoughts about whether we could have saved him. Not on Monday; by then, whatever it was, was too late. There can't be any serious doubt about that terrible day. But all the days before that. Life's clues are always these messy, unclear things. Afterward the narrative is easy to see. He lies with a leg stuck out? Personality. He has a urinary tract infection? Some bug found a lucky spot to grow. His legs atrophied? A selenium deficiency we didn't suspect until we tested for it. His hopping lower, less energetic things giving way to walking? Side effect of the leg atrophy. Now it's easier to see this as all aspects of a common problem, likely some nerve disorder, rather than several coincidental things picking on a poor bunny that didn't deserve it.
And we don't know what might have happened, had we pursued these clues. Maybe nothing different. Maybe everything. All we know is this quiet empty space where there should be a big, grey rabbit with secretive, sad eyes rattling around his jingle ball.
Trivia: The heat-flow sensors for Apollo 17's lunar surface exploration required drilling two holes, each 8.3 feet deep. Source: Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of NASA's Lunar Expeditions, William David Compton. NASA SP-4214.
Currently Reading: The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs, Bill Jenkinson.