Several years back I gave my Mother a book called “The Velveteen Rabbit,” written by Michael Hague.
For those of you who are not familiar with the book, it’s a story about a lonely discarded toy velveteen rabbit, who wants to become a real rabbit.
Then a wise friend explained to him what it is to become real.
Becoming real is the culmination of being loved for a very long time.
To a stuffed toy rabbit proof of becoming real would be the missing bunny tail, the tattered ears, the chewed up bunny nose. To a toy rabbit these would be the signs of being well loved over a long period of time.
After reading the book together, Mother immediately understood the context of why I gave it to her.
She herself, had been well loved through the years, and the proof was in her age, her physical limitations, the many joys she had known, and yes, even her battle scars.
For what is life without our battle scars. It is part of what makes us real.
About two years ago, a toy rabbit fell under my eye, which I knew was destined to become Mother’s very own personal velveteen rabbit.
After I gave it to her, she placed it next to ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ book which sat displayed in her living room hutch.
When I visited her she would point to both the book and the rabbit and tell me how much joy they bring her.
And there, the book and the rabbit remained until May 12, 2014 when I brought them both to the Respite House.
As she slept, I placed the rabbit on the pillow next to her.
And opening up the book I read through our favorite passage, the part about how we become real by being loved.
And in her last days she taught me something more…
She taught me that we must not be afraid as we approach the end of a real life…
…. by approaching the end of her own life with both grace and a grateful heart.