Even little bunnies know how to love.
When I was born, my dad gave me a stuffed rabbit that had white floppy and fluffy ears and a hard, pink nose. Quickly dubbed the genderless name of “Baby Bunny,” I grew up with the most faithful and ever present companion. It’s funny though, Baby Bunny’s gender was always changing. I often referred to Baby Bunny with the pronouns he, him, or his, even though the stuffed rabbit was adorned with a detachable lace collar that matched its floral dress.
By the time I was 5, Baby Bunny had very little fuzz left on his ears. They were so soft and I often fell asleep by rubbing my cheek against them. His lace collar fell off so repeatedly that he never wore it, but I would wear it around my wrist if my family and I traveled to see cousins for a weekend. I was not allowed to bring Baby Bunny with me, for my parents feared I would lose him.
There were more than a few occasions when I remember being sent to my room and throwing Baby Bunny on the ground. Stomping on him never made me feel like I got my anger out. Stomping on him only made me pick him up and cry more as I cradled him tight. Stomping on him also caused him to go the ER (Mom’s sewing room) a time or two so that she could do minor surgery. This meant rearranging his stuffing so he wasn’t so butt-heavy all the time. He became very pear shaped in his old age.
When I was 7, my youngest sister was 2 years old and very into hiding objects she found around the house. My dad’s tie went missing and was discovered in a shoe box weeks later. Socks were frequent victims. Between the laundry room and our drawers, they went missing. Many orphan socks found temporary homes in secret places all over the house thanks to my devious sister; though my mother was convinced our washer and dryer were eating them. Before realizing the true culprit, my mother often blamed trolls, goblins, or “The Borrowers” went things went missing.
My family went on vacation that year. This was going to be the longest and farthest road trip we’d ever gone on and I was given very stern talking-to’s about how important it was to leave Baby Bunny in a safe space at home. One day before we left, all of our bags packed, Mom – in true cartoon fashion — wagged her pointer finger at my small face next to Baby Bunny’s, who I was clutching tightly, “Under no circumstance are you allowed to bring her on vacation. Do you understand?”
Two hours into the drive, I was happily in the very back seat of our family’s minivan. My mother says that she looked up into the rearview as we were merging lanes and saw Baby Bunny hopping on top of the terrain of suitcases stacked above the height of the van’s back seat.
I was in deep trouble. And 7 days later, sure enough, Baby Bunny was nowhere to be found. We had already packed the van to head back home. We unpacked and repacked and unpacked and repacked. My father called the rental agency to talk to the cleaners who would go through our vacation house after we left. If they found Baby Bunny, they could contact us. We grilled my little sister. She claimed she didn’t do it. (For the majority of our teenage years, we did not get along. Probably because she hid Baby Bunny and never fessed up to it and feels very guilty and hopefully will for the rest of her life.)
My mother and father made up many stories of the adventures Baby Bunny was having….how he sailed at sea, how he found a little girl who loved him and needed him, how he was happy and very loved… Well, that never quite healed the hole left in my heart from being without my companion.
Just recently I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane by Emily DiCamilo. If you ever had a stuffed animal and ate with it, played with it, slept with it, traveled with it, or loved it…..don’t read (READ) this book. It will mess you up. You will understand it. You will love it. You will dislike the china rabbit in the book because he is a narcisstic ass. You will love him as he learns what love is. You will cry when he spends an eternity face down at the bottom of the sea. You will laugh as he is redesigned, redressed, and renamed. But more than all of that, you will discover what love is, too. For Edward Toulane, he discovers more about the value and pain of love. He starts out as a vain, self-absorbed china rabbit that only cares about egotistical things like his silk suits and dashing blue eyes rather than caring for the girl who loves him. He feels fear for the first time after being tossed overboard. He feels his first twinge of loss after being thrown into a dumpster. He feels warmth for the first time when he is held like a baby. He feels heartbreak born of true affection. He is filled with expectancy as he sits on a shelf in a china doll shop, finally waiting for someone that will come for him. Someone that he can finally hold love for, because now he knows what it is.
Even little bunnies know how to love. Our tumultuous journeys teach us what love is as well. As one china doll tells Edward Toulane, we must only “open our hearts and someone will come.” Or we may arrive at the place of love ourselves, ready to love someone. Whoever that may be, however long we are with them on our journeys.
We are very capable of love.