It's been raining for the last few days. One would think that inclement weather outside would encourage me to stay by the computer and write.
I've floundered about the house, battling my allergies and a sense of malaise that seems to have no genuine source. Though if I am fair to myself (which I rarely am), an inability to breathe freely did have something to do with my melancholy.
Of course, the constriction in my chest made me think of my father. You see, he had allergies and I had this rabbit...
The year I was nine (around Easter-time-thanks to some sadistic, marketing geniuses), I bought a small albino bunny from the mall pet store. I named him Twiddles. Hey. I was nine. But now you understand why my sister named all of the pets (though, for the record, our dog was named "Spoofer". 'nuff said.) The story is my sister even named me. I was supposed to be Megan, but my sister had a hated schoolmate with that moniker, so they went with what my sister chose- Nancie.
Back to Twiddles. He was a sweet rabbit. But he grew big and fat, as rabbits do. I should note, that the only reason I was allowed to get the rabbit in the first place, was that someone told my father that the pet would last only marginally longer than the string of hamsters I had owned through the years. (And before my sister comments, I take full responsibility for abusing my first hamster. Hamsters are very delicate creatures and they don't fly well or take to being squeezed like putty. I was six. But I still feel guilty.)
Enter Twiddles, the pet that was only supposed to last a few months. A couple of years at most. We set up his cage in the corner of the family room, near the pool-table. Sweet bunny. I would let him hop around the room. He would bounce around happily, thumping and leaping around the room, standing on his back legs, sniffing the air, rubbing his chin on everything. I could hold him, rub his ears, and he would lie on my lap, belly-up like a dog.
I loved that rabbit. My father did not.
Part of the problem was my lack of animal husbandry skills; I was less than diligent about cleaning up the trails of rabbit-raisins after a few hours of bunny freedom; I was a bit lax in the cleaning of the cage, too. A lot of yelling was usually neccessary.
Years passed. Yes, years. Many, many years. Did I mention that my father had allergies- allergies that increased in severity with the passing of time. By the time I was in high-school (I did say many years) and Twiddles was still munching hay and pellets in his corner of the family room, my father was taking oodles of medication to control the histamine levels in his body. And the main culprit? You guessed it- he was allergic to animal hair- particularly rabbit fur. Go figure.
It got so bad that he was rushed to the emergency room of the hospital and put on a nebulizer until he could breathe without distress. My mother went with him, was fairly (for her) sympathetic, I was given a stern lecture about cleaning more regularly and effectively after the animal my dad affectionately called "The Goddamn Rabbit."
And the ER visit was repeated more than once.
His doctor kept increasing his medication and I tried to clean better. My mother did not believe in letting something like an allergy dictate everyone else's life. Sometimes, I think seeing so many sick people in her profession made her less than compassionate toward the ailments of her immediate family. Either way, the status quo remained.
I was nineteen when Twiddles died. I had planned to go to the beach for the Fourth of July, but I just had a feeling. Twiddles had been starting to fail, so I stayed home, watched a movie, checking on him during each commercial(he'd been moved from the family room to the laundry room in an attempt to improve my dad's quality of life). When the movie ended, I checked, he was gasping for air. I picked him up a cuddled him, rocking him as he breathed his last. Even after he was gone, I sat with him on my lap until my dad came home. I was devastated.
We buried Twiddles that night.
I'm pretty sure the quick interrment had to do with my extreme grief and not my father's relief (maybe, glee?) that the G-D-rabbit was finally gone. After TEN years.
That was decades ago.
My son has a rabbit now. Which, though he is a college student, I cared for when he could no longer keep it with him. In the beginning, I called it my Grand-bunny. Except it is not friendly. At all. Now I refer to her as: Bunnicula, the Monty Python rabbit, and, of course, that G-D rabbit. (She attacks and growls. Really growls!)
Furthermore, as I have aged, I have developed allergies. And, yes, asthma. They flare when the seasons change, when there is a lot of moisture and mold, and when I groom the horses in the summer. I use an inhaler. Needless to say, the last few days have been hell. I can only imagine what I put my father through. The man was a saint. I understand that much better now.
Karma's a bitch.