Have you read the story “The Velveteen Rabbit” ? It stands alongside of Le Petit Prince as one of my favourite books ever to find its way to my eyes, and to my heart. Should you not know the story, here it is in a few sentences:
The Velveteen Rabbit Summary
The story begins on Christmas Eve as a velveteen rabbit toy peeks out of a Christmas stocking.
The recipient, a small boy, receives so many toys that year that he quickly forgets all about the velveteen rabbit. His other toys are new and mechanical and think themselves superior to the stuffed toys.
The velveteen rabbit feels small but the Skin Horse, the oldest toy in the nursery, teaches the young rabbit about what it means to be “real” and how toys can become real if a child loves them enough.
One night, the boy’s Nana picks the velveteen rabbit up and gives it to the boy to sleep with. From then on, the boy and the rabbit are inseparable and enjoy picnics together in the day time, and bedtime hugs in the evening.
The boy and his toy rabbit play outside one day and the velveteen rabbit encounters real rabbits for the first time.
However, the real rabbits look down on him as the velveteen rabbit does not have hind legs that will allow him to hop around like they do.
Unfortunately, the boy then falls incredibly ill with scarlet fever but the faithful velveteen rabbit accompanies him all the same.
As the boy begins to recover, the velveteen rabbit overhears the doctor say that the boy should go to the seaside and the rabbit is delighted!
What the velveteen rabbit did not understand was that the doctor had also ordered for anything that may now be covered in germs should be burned so as to disinfect the boy’s bedroom.
The rabbit finds himself in a sack and left for the gardener to deal with the next morning. The velveteen rabbit begins to cry and tears fall to the ground.
Magically, a flower grows from one of the tears and out pops a small fairy!
This is the Nursery Magic Fairy and she says that because the rabbit was Real to the small boy, she will take the velveteen rabbit to a place where he can be real to everyone.
The velveteen rabbit finds himself in the company of real rabbits again and starts to feel embarrassed about his hind legs.
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
Why am I bringing this up, on Easter Sunday morning, you may wonder? The answer is complicatedly simple. Our real life version of the Rabbit came home on Friday, after being away for several months. You see, Life got complicated and very difficult for a while in our household, and so she had to go live with my son as we spent time helping Bill on his road to recovery. But I digress. Let’s start from the beginning.
We first met Moonlight, or as we now call her: Moonie, when we went to pick up a third little puppy from our breeder. Being allergic to dogs, it’s my primary concern that our dogs be hypoallergenic because although I cherish their company, my ability to breathe still remains a number one priority. When we got there, we were supposed to get this little one called “Chase”, I think. But I instantly did not click with him. He was loud, and jumped everywhere and just didn’t tug at my heart strings. So we asked the lady if there was another one we could have and she pointed to a little tiny female, the mother of puppies. She was curled up in a ball, sad, forgotten. She was smaller than any of them and didn’t seem like ‘the’ dog to match Leroy and John. When we approached her, she curled back, almost afraid that we would kick her, or so it seemed. I fell in love instantly. We took her home, an hour later, at a ‘discounted’ cost since she would need to be fixed. It didn’t matter: she was coming home with us.
A Dog and her Boy
Moonie instantly took her place amongst the pack. She pranced when being fed and adored my youngest son,Marc-André. She waited for him to come home from school. She’d sit by him as he played with little chains. She followed him everywhere, running up and down the stairs to be where he would be. She learned about video games, astronomy and everything in between. She was secretly fed chips, pieces of cookies and pork chops. He taught her how to go outside and take walks and she taught him about simply being an incredible human being. Their love grew and time went on. We went camping. She came along. She slept on the bed and held the title of Queen.
River House Moonlight
When we moved to our River House seven years ago, Moonie and the Originals came along. She found a new place to sit: at the top of the stairs. She still eagerly waited for Mackie to come home. He’d say hello to her, but the boy had fallen in love. He spent hours talking to his new love, but still, once in a while, he would pick up Moonie and her heart would flutter, until the day he moved away. Because of Life circumstances, Moonie did not go with him – and she truly was heartbroken. Time was beginning to show herself in the little dog. She lost an eye . She now had no teeth and her little pink tongue just hung. But she still pranced and loved to be fed. She shook at loud noises and was still terrified of men and their feet. But then something happened. She adopted Bill and Alex. They changed their voices when they spoke to her, and fed her an incredible amount of treats. She still pranced. She still won hearts over and became the matriarch of the pack. She regained her empire and Life was good.
Time moved on.
Moonie cried when she noticed that Leroy had gone over the Rainbow Bridge. She screamed in grief when John did the same. A few times, the little black dog almost went to join them, but as Life would happen, she did not. She kept on being Moonie – and we continued to love her.
This last Summer, when we lost Bill a few times, I had tough decisions to make. I couldn’t take care of her properly with everything going on. She required attention – and there was no way that Alex could handle all of this responsibility on his own , and so Moonie moved away with Mackie. She was happy to be with him and they loved her dearly, yet she wasn’t home. Not anymore. She now had to share his love with Bailey ( the beagle ), Nala ( the new cat ) , and of course, Elizabeth ( the fiancée ). Still she endured – searching for sunny spots in which to sunbathe. Looking for food and of course, peeing everywhere as she is almost 13 and a half years young.
We were blessed. Bill got stronger and came home. Exhausted. Sick. He too was broken – kind of like the Velveteen Rabbit and Moonie. His body was mangled, had been torn to shreds, and then sewn back together. But he was home and He was going to heal his body. His heart and soul had grown bigger through the adventures. And so, we made a decision. To celebrate Easter this year, there would be no presents. There would be no chocolate. We decided that it was time for Moonie to come back home. We announced our decision to the kids on Thursday evening, thanking them for everything they had provided for her since last Summer. And it was a done deal. Moonie arrived on Friday. She was tinier than what we remembered her to be, skiddish still, and so afraid of everything and everyone. Then she realized where she was, and she began to calm down. She readily let us pet her, hold her , and we not- so- secretly fed her pieces of steak. She is home – and we couldn’t be happier. Yep – she gotten skinnier. Her fur has greyed, and she walks into walls because her eye is obviously giving out. she has trouble hearing voices, but her essence has grown. She’s reminded us that love endures all : illness, separation, distance.
She’s sleeping in her little basket as I write this. We put a little cover on her because we didn’t want her to get cold. She’s adorable : yesterday, our incredible groomer took time out of her busy schedule to groom her. She didn’t have to do that but we are forever grateful that she did.
Little Moonlight – Queen Moonie – has returned to her castle and she’ll be treated accordingly. Just like the Velveteen Rabbit, this furry soul is Real. She had taught us what it is to love unconditionally. She had stood by us, in our happy moments and in those which were bathed in tears. She is old. She is tired. She is physically breaking – yet she has never been stronger or more loved. Welcome home, little one.
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Happy Easter .