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Making Life Count

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Cottontail kitten

Yesterday, as I drove into my garage, I saw something on the floor where I planned to park my car. I stopped to investigate, and found a small rabbit kitten lying lifeless before me. I gently picked it up and found it was still warm, but completely dead, and wondered what had caused it’s death. I was glad to see rat traps weren’t to blame. I checked the little bunny for signs of broken skin and bones. It’s bones were so delicate, reflecting it’s tender age.

Cause of death was a mystery, but I speculated that it must have been terrified as it found it’s way into my garage. It looked like it died as it was trying to get away from something, front paws stretched forwards and back paws stretched behind. I couldn’t bear the thought that this little one had died alone and scared.

I cradled it in the palm of my right hand and stroked it gently with my left. It was so soft. I had never touched anything so gloriously soft. I caressed it’s ears and stroked it’s back and tummy, it’s small paws and nose. It’s tiny little white tail against brownish-grey fur. It’s eye lids were open slits, showing dark eyes whose life was cut short.

As much as I understand that rabbits are an introduced pest and can cause devastating havoc to our farms, I saw this animal for what it was – young, alone, and defenceless.

A little earlier that day, there had been a terrible motor vehicle accident. A man was driving along my sister’s street, with a woman and child, and crashed the car. The woman and child were taken to the hospital where my brother-in-law works as a nurse in theatre, specialising in trauma. By that, I mean he works in a highly organised unit of health professionals who do what they can to save the lives of people who are physically traumatised by MVAs like this, and other physical attacks like domestic violence and alcohol-fuelled assaults. He travels the world, educating others in best practice in dealing with physical trauma.

My poor brother-in-law was on the team that worked to save the little girl, who came to hospital in a very critical condition and sadly died. She was reportedly 9 years old.

I thought about my feelings of sorrow and loss for the little rabbit, how I was moved to tears by this defenceless kitten, and I thought about my brother-in-law working so hard to save that little girl’s life. You don’t need to be a parent to feel it, but it cuts so very deeply if you are. That could have been my daughter. My sister. My niece. My neighbour. And she was somebody’s.

I wrapped the little bunny’s body with paper and dug a small grave to bury it. I said a little prayer for it, but I don’t remember what I said. I have it buried in my garden between two trees. But the little girl? There will be investigations. There will be so much pain for her family and all who knew her. And the people whom I’d like to honour here are those who worked to save her. The paramedics and police, the nurses and doctors, and all those who came to her aid. I want to remember that they will relive moments of this; I want to acknowledge their suffering.

And I want that child’s death to not be in vain.

Speeding causes accidents like this one. Not wearing a seat-belt makes the risk of injury and death higher, and causes those injuries to be much worse. Not paying attention while driving causes accidents, and that can be due to mobile phone use, drug use, intoxication, or being distracted by other people in the car or watching something on a screen.

So, let’s talk about this and consider the impact on the people who respond at the scene and in the hospital. Let’s work to reduce our speed and to use our cars more considerately. Let’s look out for the ones we love as well as each other.


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