And cats and guinea pigs, too.
Most of us have been there at some point in our lives or another; been the willing serf to the whims and wiles of our beloved furbabies. I mean, what other being on Earth greets you day in and day out with nothing but pure, unadulterated love? These bundles of love and joy don’t differentiate between good days and bad days, they just know that their human is home and that is good enough for them.
And for someone with Depression that is enough to save your soul.
Depression is insidious. It entwines itself throughout your very marrow, never offering reprieve. For me, it is always there; an omnipresent brute that is an anchor on my soul, forever tying me to the ground so that I may never spread my wings and fly.
This feeling is exacerbated when I find myself separated from my support network — primarily my husband. He has been through Hell and back with me and is the beacon on the rock that always leads me safely home. Without his steadying presence I shrink into myself and the Depression runs amok.
You see, last Fall, after we moved from California to Florida, he needed to return for obligations he was duty-bound to complete. My Mother was able to spend that first week with me, but could not remain for the entire time. Even while she was there, I felt a shell of myself — putting on a bright face even though I was crumbling inside. Depression will do that to you, no matter the circumstances or the best intentions of those around you.
And then she had to go, too. I was not angry. I completely understood her need to return home. I was scared, though, that my Depression would overwhelm me, and that was exactly what it did.
I couldn’t shower. I could barely eat. I would curl up in a ball and cry as if I had an inexhaustible supply of tears — and perhaps I did. I did not want to die, I just wanted to be dead. And the furbabies saved me. They forced me to pull myself together — at least for a little while — to care for them; those innocent beings who could not care for themselves.
I would still cry. I would sob as I cleaned the bunnies’ cages. I would curl up on the floor in their exercise pens and cry brokenhearted tears. They would look alarmed, but then I would feel a gentle nose-bonk from one of them to let me know that they were there, and they knew that I needed their love.
And then the worst thing happened; one of them died. His name was Anthony. He had a vivacious, unquenchable spirit, and he loved me as unconditionally as I loved him. He had overcome a grave injury to live the life of a happy-go-lucky bunny fashioned of pure love, and then he was gone.
Our Emergency Vet is located in Gainesville, FL at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital — a two-hour drive from Jacksonville. Throughout the day Anthony had been ill, and I had done everything in my power to help him get better. It was late in the evening when I knew that I was unable to help him any further on my own, so I rushed to UF and discovered the worst.
Rabbits are fragile creatures. As a prey animal they learn to hide any signs of illness until it’s too late. That is what happened to Anthony. When we got to the hospital, the Doctor gravely (but compassionately) informed me that there was nothing more we could do.
I kissed my special boy goodbye and sent him to the Rainbow Bridge.
The drive home was a blur. I forced myself to remain numb — a mind as blank as slate — so that I could safely make it home. And then I collapsed. It was about three in the morning when I finally got home, and as I fell into bed sobbing, my beloved cat pictured above climbed on top of me to comfort me the best way he knew how.
And that’s how I survived. The bond I had to these precious souls, and the love they gave me in return.
And in that way, the bunnies, the guinea pigs and the kitties saved my life — and I am forever thankful that they did.