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White bunny puppet with a beach sunset

Those Who Understand About Bunnies

Christy, Assistant to Nutmeg & Binky

I find that I have always divided the people in my life into two mental camps - those who Understand about Bunnies, and those who Are Not Yet Enlightened. People in the first camp are, as Anne Shirley would say, kindred spirits. No matter what else we may or may not agree on, there is a fundamental layer of understanding that allows me to connect with them, and some (possibly blind) sense of trust in the kindness of their soul. This is not to say that the Not Yet Enlightened are mean people - merely that I have a more challenging time connecting with them. I don’t immediately understand their motivations, and I have no reason to trust that they actually like or understand me.

My relationship with my grandmother was challenging. I am a shy and reserved person. I don’t know if my grandma was still shy by the time I was born, but she was certainly reserved. She didn’t shower her grandkids with outward displays of affection, and instead demonstrated her care for us by correcting our manners. I existed in a general state of nervousness around her - that I would use the wrong fork or be reprimanded for forgetting to send a thank you card. Once in my late teens, the two of us went out to lunch together, and though I’m sure we both gave it our all, we couldn’t manage a single conversation lasting longer than three sentences. Now that she’s gone, I can think of at least a dozen things I would like to have asked her about, but at the time, I simply had no idea how to communicate with her.

As the years passed and my outright fear of her disapproval morphed into mild discomfort in her presence, I began to understand that our relationship was really one of mutual affection, if infrequently and very awkwardly expressed. My clues were that she always gave me bunny- or teddy bear-themed birthday cards and made a point of showing me where the bunnies lived at her vacation cabin when I visited. This was the way she knew to connect with me.

When she was in the hospital with pneumonia, and it was looking like she might not be around much longer, I was plagued by the feeling that I hadn’t spent enough time with her to prove that I loved her. I wanted to visit her to show her that I cared (and partly to prove that my manners had turned out okay after all), but I was also desperately afraid of being alone with her. The conversation thing, you understand. And so I turned to the obvious solution: a stuffed bunny puppet.

When I got to the hospital room, I presented the bunny to my grandma, who immediately hugged him. Conversation was even worse than I had feared, since she could barely speak above a whisper and I was too nervous to ask her to repeat everything she said. I felt increasingly uncomfortable about the silences until she had a sudden coughing fit, and then covered the bunny’s head with her hand and said, “Sorry, Bunny.” And then I knew it was going to be okay. She clearly Understood about Bunnies, which meant that she understood what I was trying to convey with my bunny gift, and we could just sit there, silently appreciating each other.

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