by Melanie Nicholas
It just wouldn’t be Easter Sunday if I didn’t tell you a resurrection “tail.”
My son got his very first Easter bunny 10 years ago. That rabbit was a beautiful robin’s egg blue, with shining brown eyes and a pink plastic nose. Quite the dandy, he wore a gossamer bow tie and daisy boutineer. When you pushed his left foot, he began to sing and waggle his large rabbit ears. My then 2-year-old son was instantly smitten, and he and Bunny soon became inseparable.
That kind of constant attention from a toddler, well, it takes a toll on even the plushest of pals. Never one for a pacifier or thumb sucking, my son self-soothed by plucking out Bunny’s fur. At night, he would curl up with his bedtime bottle, Bunny safely strangled in the crook of his arm. When the bottle emptied, the plucking began. His little fingers would creep up and furiously start to pinch and rip out Bunny's soft blue hair. Then, Little Son would stuff it into his mouth, chewing on the wad of Bunny fuzz.
Bunny started to look a bit bedraggled. Mangy even, with bald spots on his right arm, back, legs and all along his tummy. One ear permanently bent from being used as a handle, his cottontail now just a sad bald nub. Poor Bunny, after he ran out of body hair, my son realized his body was full of fluff as well and began systematically gutting him.
The less stuffing Bunny had, the more noise his battery housing box and plastic skeleton parts started to make. He was like a bag of plastic bones, noisily shuffling about our lives. And Bunny, well, he has had a big life. He loves to travel. His special talent is stealing car keys for afternoon joy rides and carrot cake is his favorite food. Ever the guardian, Bunny watched over my son at the hospital both times tubes were put into his ears.
Over time, Bunny's dance transformed into a lurching herky-jerky kind of thing. Now he has lost his dance moves and voice completely. But the friendship continues. My son spent a solid eight years believing Bunny has magic.How else would he get home from Starbucks after accidentally being left behind? How else could he make my son believe that everything was going to turn out just fine if not for his magic powers? As he has gotten older though, I think my son pretends Bunny is magic more for my sake than his own.
Last summer, Bunny was mistakenly left on the bedroom floor. I was wearing my snappy new orthotic flip flops, trying to arrange my son’s closet. If you have never worn an orthotic, let me explain. They are hard, thick and completely non-responsive. Their sole job is to keep the foot from moving much. It’s okay if you step on a Lego block in an orthotic, you won’t feel it. The same thing goes for toys lurking under blankets. I took a step and then heard a sickening crunch, like bones breaking in a Chuck Norris fight scene. I felt nauseated when I picked up his little blue body, almost flat. His plastic battery housing was broken into three pieces, no longer expanding his little blue bunny belly.
I actually cried. I have loved that rascally rabbit as long as my son has, and it is the only vestige of his childhood that remains.
I don’t know if it’s the Apocalypse Now feeling growing inside me or something else. But last Saturday I had this overwhelming sense that Bunny had to be made whole again. Like that little rabbit was the only thing holding me together. And it seemed entirely reasonable to spend the day looking for a replacement, an Other Bunny. It is a well-known fact that I am not crafty and know nothing about electrical engineering, but I hatched a plan -- I just needed something that had a matching plastic case that I could put inside Bunny. In my first-ever transplant surgery, I would harvest Other Bunny’s innards to give Bunny new life. I finally found something similar on ebay, where all good plushies go to languish in eternal garage sale Purgatory.
On Good Friday, I pulled out Bunny’s last remaining wads of fluff, then washed him carefully in a hot bath. He instantly looked refreshed. While my daughter read Bunny stories and waited for him to finish drying, I split Other Bunny open and removed his plastic framework and song box, careful to preserve all the wiring. Word to the wiser-than-I, this is not a scene you want your children to walk in on… . After I got them to stop crying, I asked Little Son if he was sure this was what he wanted.
Honestly, I had begun having some reservations about the whole thing. Would he still be Bunny, would he retain his same … spirit when filled with Other Bunny’s parts? My son was not so sure now, either. He decided he wanted to keep Other Bunny’s plastic base and songbox, but he didn’t want the moving arms and ears.
There was a bit of Lethal Weapon 3 vibe when we tried to decide which of Other Bunny’s wires we should cut and which ones to keep so that the song box would continue to work. Thankfully, we chose the right ones!
I re-stuffed Bunny with a new bag of polyfill fluff, inserted the base and checked to make sure he could still sing. I would seal the entire operation with Gorilla Glue if everything worked. I pressed that left foot and held my breath as the tinny, high-pitched voice began to ring out, “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”
Y’all never heard a momma clap so loud. Happy Easter! He is risen indeed!