A few weeks after Gail died I was roaming the house looking at pictures of the two of us. I saw a particular favorite on a bookshelf and picked up the frame. It was a surprise to see the characters hiding behind it obviously waiting for me to discover them. Gail had done it again.
There he was, a skinny and familiar flexible rubber rabbit dancing with our five-inch-tall Mr. Bill doll. The rabbit was holding a carrot in one hand and reaching out his other gloved paw to keep his balance with the cylindrical plastic man in red with the perpetual look of surprise. I laughed out loud. Then, I cried out loud while still smiling.
The rabbit has had a habit of turning up in unusual and amusing places ever since it appeared in a surprise Easter basket Gail gave me on a trip to New Orleans in 1992. Amazingly, Gail was able to pack the basket in a suitcase without my knowledge until Easter Sunday when she gave it to me in our room at the Ponchartrain Hotel. The bag had been checked and handled by airport luggage crews in Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans. Miraculously, the basket and the rabbit inside had made the trip unscathed and undetected by me until she unwrapped them that morning.
Over the next two decades at home in Nashville, I would find that rabbit hiding in my sock drawer or behind my alarm clock. We would laugh and say, “How did he get there? That rabbit sure can move around!”
A day or two later, Gail would find it clinging to her makeup mirror or in a pair of shoes she had picked out to wear on a given day. He would appear lurking in the silverware drawer, clinging to a doorknob, or looking over a lampshade as if he were waiting to climb out from the inside. We got more and more creative about where the rabbit would show up and which one of us would be the recipient of his next surprise appearance.
In the days after Gail’s death, that plastic bunny never occurred to me. I had been consumed with sadness and the labyrinth of insurance, benefits, and trying to go on with my life. Those things continue with me now, but unexpectedly finding that rabbit gave me a much needed laugh and a reminder to think of more cheerful times. It also gave me pause to remember that Gail was always looking out for my happiness and to believe that she is still making me smile.