You were the first. Accompanied by twenty other rabbits, you arrived at Bunny Haven ready to take on the world.
You never let your small stature get in the way of what you wanted. With charm, some flashing teeth and determination, you earned the spot as Top Rabbit. Everyone respected you, including temporary residents, like Sebastian the goat and Maggie the turkey.
A year ago, your rear legs started to fail. You were ten, a superb life behind you and a slightly declining life ahead. For ten years, you had known what it was like to hop and run and jump. You would balance on hind legs, begging for apples. In your small body, you exuded greatness.
We watched uncomfortable and unsure as you struggled with the loss of your rear limbs. You dragged yourself about, adjusting to what we thought might be an unfair life. But what right did we have to say it was unfair? To say your quality of life wasn't up to our standards? You showed us otherwise, that your quality of life was up to your standards and that's all that mattered.
You moved into a safer enclosure with another hind-end paralyzed rabbit, Thor. You ate with enthusiasm and allowed some of the volunteers to stroke your soft fur, sometimes demanding more attention. In your twilight year, your last beautiful period of existence, you lived a calm, dignified life and you were comfortable and content.
Time was never on your side, not on anyone's side really. You started to show us that life was hurting you, that you were suffering. Sometimes you ate, sometimes you didn't. Sometimes you would end up on your left side, the one side that prohibited you from moving. We knew this was hard for you, knew the signs of your discomfort and stress. Your friend, Thor, knew too. Sometimes we would catch him smothering you, trying to stop you from struggling. You would stop, give up, panting in exhaustion.
We knew. You did not. Every movement was a struggle for you, but you were still aware. It just was not fair. You died on a hot day. Your favorite volunteer fed you a last meal worthy of the kingly rabbit you are. Were. Thor was by your side as you took your last breath. We watched and waited and then, you were gone, a small, heaving sigh the only sign you had departed.
You had a life and it was good. Stewart, you were the perfect leader, the perfect friend, the perfect rabbit. Life was very easy and wonderful for you and then it was harder, as it is with us all. And you did not mind. We should all be so lucky. You will be missed.