“Hey Mom,” I said. “Do you remember that stuffed bunny I had? I got it for Easter when I was about three?”
“Four,” Mom said.
So she did remember.
“Do you still have it?” I asked. “You said you were going to keep it for me, for when I got older.” Even back then, I knew it was an excuse, a half-lie. Why would I want him when I was older?
Mom sighed. “Somewhere,” she said.
“You didn’t throw it away?” I sometimes wondered if she had.
“No, it’s with some other old things. I’ll see if I can find it.”
When I got home from school that afternoon, there was a white plastic bag on my bed with a small body inside it. I almost didn’t want to look.
Bunny was a very relative term. He was more like a big rag doll with a furry yellow face and rabbit ears. One plastic eye was missing, there was only a shiny pink spot of glue left of the nose, and the yellow fur was dingy and matted. The ears still had the original material, blue with pink, green, and yellow polka-dots, but the rest of the body was covered in green with little Christmas ornaments.
Christmas ornaments? That’s right, I’d forgotten. Mom had made a new suit for my bunny when I wore him out until his stuffing was showing, maybe kindergarten or first grade. She’d taken him away a week before Christmas, then I’d got him back Christmas morning. I wasn’t sure how Mom didn’t understand that Christmas material was not the right thing for him. It was one of those, “Thanks, Mom, but seriously?” moments.
That Christmas morning he had looked pretty awful, but I still loved him. And I eventually got used to his new suit.
It was strange, looking at that bunny now, remembering how attached I was. Odd tingles prickled my fingers as I touched the faded Christmas print material.
My mom came to the door.
“So, why exactly did you take him away from me?” I asked. I didn’t care about the bunny anymore, but I cared about that eight year old child who had just moved from Arizona to Texas, who was trying to figure out how a plastic lunch box with Care Bear stickers on it could possibly be called a lunch pail, and why being offered a coke meant I could have a sprite or an orange crush, but maybe not actually a coca cola because they didn’t really have any. Texas might have been another planet, and it helped to have something familiar to hug at night.
“This bunny,” Mom shook her head. “You have no idea how much time I spent repairing it for you. Every time he came apart, you’d cry. I finally decided it was best just to put him away before there was nothing left but a rag.”
There was nothing left but a rag. Maybe if she’d let me keep him I could have let go on my own.
“So you’ve seen him. Do you want to keep him, or should we throw him out?”
I couldn’t throw him out. I still couldn’t, not even now. I knew he wasn’t really alive, didn’t have feelings, hadn’t missed me the way I missed him. But somewhere inside me I was afraid that throwing him out would offend… someone? The eight year old child that was still inside me, who wanted to believe that bunny was coming back some day.
He was too ugly to put on display in my room, so I tucked him back inside his body bag.
“Keep him,” I said. “Maybe someday I’ll show my kids.”