Author’s note: My aunt, Sally Zajichek Halverson, was a funny, lively and generous person. She battled ovarian cancer for three years and passed away on July 2, 2018. I wrote this story to honor her memory and bring some solace to my family. I choose to write my aunt and her siblings as rabbits because their maiden name Zajichek means “little rabbit” and the rabbit image has come to joyfully represent our family over the years. I hope the message of the story helps anyone coping with the loss of a loved one. May we all enjoy the time that we have with one another.
The Zunnies are three sisters, all long-eared, golden brown rabbits. They live in different burrows throughout the Continental Rabbit States. Though they never thought they’d live where they do, they never feel very far from each other. It’s a funny thing to be a rabbit, there are often many adventures to be had on one’s own, but it is known that the best adventures are with your hare family. This is one such adventure.
The sisters’ adventure began three months ago, when the middle sister rabbit, Sally, discovered the very best beet ever. You see, long-eared, golden rabbits don’t always favor carrots, oftentimes, they devour and love beets, especially the purple ones.
Sally was an adventurous rabbit. She never believed in stopping, you see. She was a rabbit who loved to love, move and learn new things. She hopped through life with the kind of hop every bunny hopes for. It was during one of those hops that she happened across a long-neglected patch of beets. You see, my Sweet Reader, not everyone likes beets, and this particular year, not everyone in the Continental Rabbit States enjoyed having their fur and teeth turn purple with each beet bite. So, there was an abundance of beets for Sally to explore. And my, did she explore! She hopped and double-hopped through the beet patch until she found a beet that looked exquisite. And though she admired the beet, it did not seem quite right to eat it alone. No, she thought, I must go find my sisters and show them this beet. For truly, exquisite things are best enjoyed with others.
Sally turned around and began to hop back to her home, eager to share her find with her sisters! As she hopped, she marked her path so she could find her way back.
Once home, she thumped a message to her sister, Peggy, and her littlest sister, Susie. The message, once dictated across the Continental Rabbit States TeleThumping Line read: “Dear Sisters, hop over quick, I have found the most exquisite beet!”
Peggy, the eldest, smiled and sighed, Sally was always calling for some sort of adventure, and packed her cooler of jam, because, Sweet Reader, a wise rabbit never leaves home without jam. She grabbed her raincoat, too, because you also don’t travel in the Continental Rabbit States without a raincoat.
Susie, not one to miss an adventure, threw her raincoat and her tweezers (she was a Nurse Rabbit and always helped her sisters get thorns out of their paws) in her bags and hopped out the door with the last bit of Peggy’s rhubarb and beet jam with her.
After a while, Peggy and Susie met where their paths cross on the way to Sally’s and continued their journey together.
The sisters happily hopped along and recalled memories of their previous adventures with their sister, Sally. They thought of the time they traveled to Carrotfornia. And Califlowerado. They laughed at the times they played silly rabbit games together and goofed around with their brother, Daniel, who was a good rabbit brother who listened to their tales, though he never quite knew what kind of wild adventures his sisters had.
Sally waited patiently for her sisters to arrive. Once they did each sister shared a bit of the life they had been living and then, when they were caught up on the happenings and events of their lives, Sally quietly and ever-so softly said, “Let’s go get that exquisite beet.” The sisters hopped off in the direction that Sally said to go, careful to avoid any brushes with tomatoes, they give bunnies indigestion. All bunnies have indigestion and sometimes, Sweet Reader, a little spoonful of apple cider vinegar helps, but not in the case of tomatoes.
As rabbit adventures go, this one was one of the best. The sisters knew each other so well by this time in their rabbit years. They giggled, as bunnies giggle, at the silliest of shapes and sounds, they found joy in the tiniest conversations, and simply relished the time that they had.
After several twists and turns, Sally began to realize that they were close to the end of the journey. She mentioned this to her sisters who nervously hopped forward, waiting to see the most exquisite beet emerge before them. Just before they rounded the corner, Sally stopped. She turned to her sisters and said, “The most exquisite beet is gone.” The sisters did not quite believe this. Sally was known to play a trick or two. They peeked around the corner to check for themselves. No beet. Nothing exquisite.
Sally was perplexed. She marked her path, she thought. She had made a plan. It was all very detailed. Why wasn’t the exquisite beet in its place? She nervously looked at her sister Peggy, who was smiling. She turned to Susie, who was also smiling. “Why are you smiling?” asked Sally. “Well,” said Susie, “I’m smiling because I loved the turns, we took together on the way here.” Peggy put her paw on Sally’s shoulder, “I’m smiling because I loved the twists, we took on the way here.” “Oh,” Sally stepped back from her sisters and smiled, “I loved the whole trip.” The sisters hugged and knew that though the end was not what they had expected or experienced, the way there was the most important part of their journey.
It was not a grand adventure, but they loved the time they had together all the same.
Written with Love by Maria (Sally, Dan and Peggy’s Niece and Susie’s Daughter) July 2, 2018