My dearest baby girl Panda,|
I guess it's time that I finally write this. You've been gone for a while, but it still hasn't felt real. I haven't been the same, or smiled and laughed more than I did with you, since you had to go. In addition, my life was never complete until you came into it.
Finding you was fate, I've always maintained -- and always will maintain -- that. I know I've told you the story so many times, but I want to write it down, so I never forget it as I come back here to visit you virtually for the rest of my life. We signed up to go to "bunny speed dating" to find a partner for George. Our hope was that he would find a friend who could enrich him and connect with him on a level that we, as people, just couldn't.
When we did go, we met several other bunnies, but none were a match. It was getting late in the day, and I was resigned to leave and try another time. But something stopped me. I don't remember exactly where you came from, or who suggested we set you up with George, but the two of you put in a pen caused an instant spark. Within minutes, seeing George lay down next to you and you kiss his ears, I knew that you two were meant to be. That was also when you stole my heart as the most loving, selfless, sweet bunny in the world.
Having to send you away on the "bunnymoon" was agonizing, wondering why the absolute most precious sweetheart in the world couldn't win over grumpy George. But when you two came back, my worries were assuaged. You and George quickly took over our whole apartment, lounging under the couch, chewing baseboards, and sneaking into the bedroom any time you had the chance.
You were so cautious and polite about everything you did. Sometimes, I liked to think that you would look at me and silently ask permission before going somewhere you shouldn't, or following George on one of his adventures. Coaxing you to jump up on the couch for treats was an incredible joy, as we could tell you used every ounce of courage and strength to follow through on your achievements.
No matter where we went, you showed so much bravery and resilience. I'll always remember being at my parents' house and you crossing the scary foyer into the dining room. You loved playing hide and seek in there, as we would look under every chair or behind the bar cart for you. The first times you went there, we didn't trust you to stay in the dining room all day and zone, so we had to help you back to the living room to go to the bathroom before you zonked out for the afternoon.
You learned the routine so quickly, and you lit up all of our hearts when you would make the treacherous journey back. It was then that we realized how much you liked and needed carpet or rug under your feet, leading us to buy two little "Panda runways" for our current house to help you run out into the living room here.
For the last almost year of your life, I treasured staying and working at home, knowing that at any moment I could turn around in my chair and see you perk up and acknowledge me, or catch you feeling so content and safe, napping away.
When it became just the three of us, I feel like you and I transformed our relationship into something different, but equally special to what we had before. You were the rock of our house, showing us how we needed to be strong, and not move on, but keep going.
More than six years ago, when we were preparing to get a second bunny, I had no idea what to expect. What I ended up getting blew me away. Having you in our lives changed me more than I could ever imagine, and I know you left an indelible mark on everyone else's hearts that you met.
If there's a saving grace in you being gone, I know it's that you're reunited with George and you two can go through time and space together for eternity. Try to visit us sometimes, but keep us guarded and safe, watching over us. We need your love and protection now more than we ever did when you were here.
I could fill thousands of books with all the incredible memories we made over your short time with us, and know that forever wouldn't have been long enough to have you. Someday, I'll search eons and eons and galaxies and galaxies to find you again.
My sweetheart, my little angel, my baby girl, my precious Pandy, never ever doubt that you meant anything less than the world to me, to Eileen, and to my family. You were -- and are -- our absolute everything. We'll love you until the end of time with every last fiber of our being.
I joked that we shared a bachelor pad for the first couple years, and even in our old townhouse I had to come up with creative ways to stop you from going up the stairs or from getting into mischief. One of my favorite earliest memories is sitting in the living room and looking over to see you had climbed all the hardwood stairs and were joyously waiting for someone to notice your achievement.
I also remember our first time coming home to Pittsburgh and the immediate effect you had on my parents. Seeing their eyes light up every time you hopped out of the carrier brought such joy to the entire house.
The night you got hurt was the worst thing I had ever experienced, and I had no idea that it would lead to such a hard life. You were an incredible fighter, though, and like I always said, you were a trooper. You trusted me and had faith that I would nurse you back, and that whole month started our bonding process.
I was so excited to move into a new apartment with you where you could look out windows and have total free run of the place. You experienced snow for the first time and were always waiting by the door when I came home from work. The next spring, you found a lifelong love in Panda, and she and Eileen moved in with us to complete our family. Having you away for so long to be bonded was so hard, but we trusted the process and it was worth it.
For how happy you were when it was just us, having Panda in your life brought your spirit and personality to an entirely new level. You each taught each other things, like how you taught her to Superman out and to explore and jump on things. Panda taught you "how to be a bunny." The foster lady used to say that you had to learn that, so you could exist with Panda and love her, groom her, and care for her. And oh, did you learn those things.
George, you were there for some of the most important events in Eileen and I's lives: changing jobs, going to, and graduating from law school, getting engaged, moving, and getting married. I only wish you could have been around for so much more life that we have yet to experience, but I know you'll be watching over us and smiling.
Moving again to our new house, I saw you gain a whole new lease on life. There wasn't a corner of the place you didn't try to (or successfully) get into, like our bedroom or behind the washer and dryer. Going upstairs was a much safer bet, and Eileen and I lived to hear the pitter patter of your feet running up and down the stairs or bouncing around above us. I'm so grateful that for all else that's going wrong in the world, we were able to spend the last six months of your life working at home and spending as much time as we possibly could with you.
Your sense of wonder and adventure was never more obvious than when you would jump up to a windowsill and stare out at the world. I used to tell you everything that was happening out there but also say "it's a jungle out there." More than anything, I think I was sad knowing that I'd never be able to give you the adventures and explorations you so wanted and deserved.
But we went on trips and went to new places. You came to Connecticut, to the beach, to Delaware, and Monroeville. Every time was a new challenge, having to figure out new ways to keep you contained - or at the very least - out of too much trouble.
You touched the heart of everyone you met, truly. Though I wished I could have been with you every single moment, I never hesitated in sending you home with my parents for "camp" or just for a visit. You changed their lives, hearts, and souls, in innumerable ways. From binky-hopping around the gameroom, looking out into the yard, or scheming ways to get into the laundry room, to leading Panda through the foyer and kitchen, and nearly causing heart attacks when you would go all the way upstairs (and back down), their house was a playground. Of course, until it was time to flop out in your condo or zone for the afternoon behind the screen.
And that's how you viewed the entire world - as your playground. You were so full of life, wonder, excitement, and curiosity. Your time on earth would have never been enough to fulfill all your wildest dreams, but now you can go do everything you've ever wanted. Explore through all the stars and heavens, and experience earth here in a brand-new way.
I never thought I would be able to live without you, but now I have to. I have a lifetime of cherished memories, happiness, and so many life lessons that you taught me, so in a way, you'll be with me for my whole life. You live on in Panda, and in the hearts and minds of Eileen, my parents, and everyone else you graced with your presence.
I will love you forever and ever, and I only hope you're waiting for me one day in another life. You'll always be my little guy, my bun, my trooper, my angel, pumpkin, sweet pea, peach, and little bird.