Tired from sorting through boxes and otherwise trying to reorganize my life following the death of my wife of 50 years married, lost to cancer, just over eight months ago, as well as attempt to return our home to some semblance of order so as to host our first Christmas without her, I wearily headed for bed.
There to greet me was one of the softest, impossibly long lop-eared, scraggle-furred, stuffed rabbits, courtesy of our granddaughter.
The rabbit was our family’s gift to her when she was just a baby. Since then, the rabbit has trailed behind her around the house as she pulled it by the ear; it has accompanied her splashing through mud puddles; and I suppose one day the rabbit will be buckled in a seatbelt of its own and the two will make their own trek to the tulip fields in beautiful Skagit Valley, located outside of Mt. Vernon, Washington.
For it was there in a gift shop the bunny once sat on a shelf.
And it was there my wife loved to wander among the brilliance of never-ending colors stretching as far as she could see, flowers upon flowers bathing in spectacular beauty the landscape clear to the hazy foothills in the far distance.
The bunny is the creation of two sisters, Krystal Kirkpatrick and Suzanne Knutson, who lost a father, an uncle and a cousin in a 1983 Valentine’s Day tragedy in which “eighty-knot winds, subzero temperatures, and mountainous waves” took the lives of 14 fishermen from Anacortes, WA.
Their story is told in Patrick Dillon’s “Lost at Sea: An American Tragedy.”
A few years later the sisters would lose a brother in another fishing accident.
It was during this time that they began stitching bunnies as if it were possible to stitch their lives somehow back together in the midst of tragedy.
And so it was that “The Bunnies By The Bay” industry was born.
The sisters write, “Everything can be rescued and mended, even broken hearts.”
Our family knows brokenness. Probably all families do. But we also know beauty. We see it every day in our granddaughter’s face, her smile, and her dimpled hand that clutches an ear of her little bunny friend.
One day one of the ears of the bunny will come off, and it will be the saddest looking, sweetest treasure, most-loved little rabbit.
And so, a bunny born of tragedy will have taken on a life of beauty, and in our memories we will cherish the discovery that from such tragic endings come new beginnings.
And the mending of broken hearts.