Beloved bunny, fluff-ball, and happy-dancing poop-machine Round passed away this morning after a brief, but sudden, illness. She was 5 1/2 years old.
It was a bright, cold Valentine’s Day when Juli, her brother Peter, and I were walking along Houston street where it provides the northern border of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Where we were going, I don’t know, nor does it matter. What does matter is that as we walked, we passed a mysterious pet store that never seemed to be open. On this day, there was a small glass terrarium at about eye level that nothing but a tiny grayish brown lop-eared bunny and some wood shavings. Maybe 6 inches long, the little fluff pressed her face against the glass, catching Juli’s eye. We stood and admired the adorable little thing for a moment before continuing on our way.
Two weeks passed during which Juli brought the bunny up as often as she could.
“Do you remember that bunny?”
“Wasn’t that bunny at the pet store cute?”
“It lives in a terrarium, like a turtle!”
“I wonder what the bunny is doing right now?”
One morning we were on our way to the library at NYU to work on something when she asked, “Can we stop by the pet store?”
“It’s out of the way,” I said.
“Pppplllleeeeeeeeaaassssseeeeeee!!!!” she argued.
“Ok,” I said, and off we went, out of our way along Houston from her apartment on E 6th and Avenue A. As we approached the pet store, she noticed that, for once, it was actually open. Of course we went in. Juli asked the crazy lady who ran the store all about the bunny in the window. She went over to the little glass box holding the bunny and pulled it out. She told us that she had picked this bunny especially and then asked if Juli wanted to hold it.
She looked at me with a “should I?” look in her eyes and then took the baby rabbit in her hands and held it against her chest. In that instant she melted and I knew that we were walking away with that rabbit. Round was so small that she fit in her hand from the tip of her fingers to the heel of her palm. She was a ball of wild, unbelievably soft fur with ridiculous dangling ears. Juli was in love.
Tucked into a cardboard box, we brought the rabbit directly back to Juli’s apartment and set up all her various accessories. I don’t think we ever made it to the library that day, but I’m not sure that it was meant to happen. I think that we accomplished that day what we were supposed to and the school work was unimportant. It seems like a lot of important things in my life happen like that.
One of my favorite memories is of my brother Nicholas chasing you down the hallway at Mom and John’s house, you scampering away from him as he ambled behind you, his arms out like some menacing creature from a Japanese monster movie. You spent a lot of that day trying not to be humped by my Mom’s Yorkie, Duffy.
I also remember the first time you flopped in your cage. We were living at 175 Stockholm street and eating dinner and you decided that was a good time to unveil this new trick you’d figured out. It had me and Juli laughing for hours.
I remember when you were very little and Juli still lived on East 6th Street. We would take you into her little backyard area that had some planters and you would tear ass around in the dirt, digging like crazy. One day a cat was stalking you on the fence and you went flat to hide. Juli chased the cat away. You never really had any cause to worry.
Round, you were indomitably sweet even if you could be a cantankerous old bitch, but you were a member of our little family here in Brooklyn and we will miss you. Though your life was not ideal by bunny rabbit standards, we took as good care of you as we were able, providing you with all the greens you could eat, space to run around, a spacious (kind of) hutch to live in, and as much affection as we could give. I will miss the way you would run up and nudge my ankles while I was cooking dinner, hoping that I would get you a treat. I will miss the way that you would lay by the toilet on hot days, earning yourself the nickname “white trash bunny”. I will miss the way that you could be sitting on the floor looking utterly normal and then explode into a body-twisting happy dance and then bounce off. I will miss the way you would take your treats and run off like a dog. I will miss the way you would force your head into my hand when I stopped petting you because, god damn it, you weren’t done being petted yet. And most of all, I will miss the life you brought to our tiny, dark Brooklyn apartment.
I never knew a bunny before you, Round, but I suspect that you were something special. You were certainly special to us. It was good of you to wait for Juli to come home this morning. Her heart aches for you, but at least she got to say goodbye. We will miss you.