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Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Killed Bubba


I killed Bubba. I surely did. On winter nights like this, when all is dark and hushed (‘cept for train whistles in the distance), I’m haunted by the memory.

I had built a bin for compost. Felt it was my duty to return carbon life-forms to the earth from which they sprang. Besides, I’ll admit I rather like working with biota and loam. Kinda like having dirt on my face and forearms.

And I had me a righteous compost pile. I surely did. Grass clippings and leaves, augmented by vegetable rinds, coffee grounds and any and all photosynthesis-addicted matter had grown to quite a mass. Came the spring and time to take pitch fork to detritus, turn the buried to the sun.

And so I did. And in so doing, I catapulted a mass of soft fur end on end. This was something unexpected. I probed the mass and found...Bubba.

Bubba couldn’t have been more than a week old. He was merely an infant and I had just destroyed his nest, his home, his sanctuary. I didn’t know what to do. Leave him there atop the pile...exposed? Perhaps Mom would carry him off to safer shelter? Would Mom even find him in the wreckage? I didn’t/couldn’t know.

I wandered off to fret.

Came back hours later. Bubba, well, he hadn’t moved. His savior never came. Come the night, he’d surely die. I took Bubba inside.

Found him a box. Placed a heating pad on the bottom and cotton batting on top. Ran to the store for an eye-dropper and rich cream. Cupped Bubba in my hand and fed him milk. Stroked his belly so he’d defecate. And he did! Yay!

Kissed him goodnight.

Came the morning and Bubba stirred in his nest. Fed him again. Stroked his belly and whispered words of love and hope. Gotta say, Bubba was a coupla ounces o’ pure cute and innocence.

I fawned and fretted. Offered him milk whenever. Stroked him. Kissed him.

Hoped for him.

Prayed for him.

Felt him grow colder in my palm. Blew my warm breath across his fur. He forsook the eye-dropper. Hung his head in defeat.

Bubba died.

Expired in the palm of my hand.

I cried. Wailed, actually. Sobbed uncontrollably. This was all my doing. I had blundered into and onto a life. Disrupted the natural order of things. Came between a mother and infant.

And failed to salvage the situation.

Wracked with guilt, I tried to learn what I could about rearing infant rabbits. What I learned was this: rabbits can’t digest animal fats. The rich cream I offered drop-by-drop to Bubba led directly to his demise.

This happened some twenty years ago.

On winter nights like this, when all is cold, dark and hushed (‘cept for train whistles in the distance), I’m haunted by the memory.

I killed Bubba.

* * *

14 Comments:

Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Oh Jonas... but you tried your best! If you'd had the internet and researched what to do with a baby rabbit, perhaps Bubba would have lived. But the point I'm trying to make is, you cared, you took him in, you tried everything you knew to help him. Your heart was (and is) in the right place.

Sat Feb 19, 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith said...

To A Mouse by Robert Burns


Small, sleek, cowering, timorous beast,
O, what a panic is in your breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!

I doubt not, sometimes, but you may steal;
What then? Poor beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.

Your small house, too, in ruin!
It's feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse grass green!
And bleak December's winds coming,
Both bitter and keen!

You saw the fields laid bare and wasted,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel plough past
Out through your cell.

That small bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter's sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leaves us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

Your post reminded me of this poem.

Sat Feb 19, 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

Oh Jonas. Accidents. We don't mean to. And our remedies. How they can fail us. But your heart, in all of it, was/is so clear. Even Bubba knew...but was too young to have formed his words.

I found a puppy in the night once. Took him home for two days where he never left my lap. He grew warm. And warmer still, and threw up the nothing he ate. It was Parvo. Advanced. He was still in my lap when they put him down. And yes...I wailed. I'll never forget it.

Sat Feb 19, 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Kass said...

As painful as these events are, they show us the depth of our hearts.

Yours grows larger and deeper every day.

Sat Feb 19, 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger secret agent woman said...

I found a mouselet once who was so young he'd not grown fur while we were digging up a garden. I kept him in a tiny box filled with cotton, tried to feed him, kept him warm and of course, he died like Bubba did. I cried hard over him, too.

Sat Feb 19, 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger anna said...

You made me cry.

Sat Feb 19, 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger June Calender said...

Don't most of us do the most harm through our ignorant but well intended actions? You remind us of the pain we've caused others and ourselves.

Sat Feb 19, 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger June Calender said...

PS -- Jonas -- I hope you've noticed how many females you attract. That's a good thing, I think.

Sat Feb 19, 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Selma said...

Your intentions were good. The wee guy might have died anyway even if you hadn't come across him but I know that doesn't assuage your guilt. I have experienced similar things and still cry over the lives lost. You meant well though, Jonas. And that's really what counts.

Sat Feb 19, 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Pearl said...

Oh, SO well told.

You did your best, you did what you thought was right. If only we all did.

Pearl

Sat Feb 19, 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thank you for the consoling words, Ponita. I appreciate the effort/concern. Even so, what's done is done. When midnight trains whistle in the distance, when all is dark and dreary, I think of Bubba and I cry...

I thought I was familiar with the works of Robert Burns, Lilith, but you proved me wrong. This poem resonates. Me likes. Me believes the TRUTH in it. Thank you.

What more is there to say, Annie, except to acknowledge that we can be profoundly affected by souls that crossed our paths for the shortest of times...?

Awwww, thank you, Kass. I can't say I'm all that sure about the state of my heart. Shrinking? Growing? Splintering? Healing? I swear I don't know. "I learn by going where I have to go..." In the fullness of time I guess I'll come to know and understand.

I'm not surprised to learn that about you, my Quaker operative.

Didn't mean to, Anna. I was simply reflecting upon my own tears.

Ah, yes, intentions...There's a reason, June, why I've included Joe Cocker's cover of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" on my Playlist. I've screwed up plenty over the course of decades. I know it. Suffer for it. I also know that "bad intent" played no role in any of it. It may not mean all that much to others...but it means something to me. And some days, that's all I got...

And, yeah, it's kinda hard to ignore the fact that a number of women drop by to visit regularly. In fact, I've been privately reminded of that by a few others. Am I flattered? Hell, yeah! Truth be told, though, a number of men tune in regularly. They don't comment much, though. Maybe, someday, I'll offer up a few pondercations about what I've observed regarding female reactions to men's "feminine sides." I kinda took a stab at the topic in this post

I think what REALLY counts, Selma, is empathy (a quality you possess in spades). Should we all grow self-absorbed, unfeeling, uncaring, then life would hardly be worth the living.

Thank you, Pearl! And welcome to my little corner in cyberspace.

Sun Feb 20, 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger Kass said...

There's an award for you over at my blog. If you don't want to participate, it won't hurt my feelings AT ALL. Just wanted you to know you're a favorite.

Sun Feb 20, 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Tears for Bubba, tears for your heart, which beats so warmly and close to the surface. Tears for all the little creatures I've tried and failed to save, and tears for myself, because I know that some part of that failure was my fault.

We do our best. We learn. And hopefully, we do better the next time.

Sat Mar 05, 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Marina said...

Hi Jonas,

I'd originally shared this story 4 years ago... I was so touched by it. Today, while searching for something else on an Fb page of mine, I came across it again. It brought me back, and I remembered that I'd never written to thank you for how much this moved me and how it represented a deeper symbolism for me. So, thank you. I'm glad to see you're still blogging. I found much comfort here back then, and I will come back and explore for more treasure. I hope you are finding good days. I too suffer from severe depression.

Sincerely, Marina

Sat Mar 12, 03:26:00 AM  

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