Shortly after I was born, my grandmother gave me a stuffed bunny.

From what I understand, she put it in my crib one day and thereafter, if anyone tried to take it away from me or move me any significant distance from it, I would cry until someone restored it to my side. As soon as I grew old enough to talk and started exhibiting some personal consciousness, I gave it a name - Bunny - and he became my best friend. I slept with Bunny every night up until I was about 14. He traveled with me. Sometimes he even came with me on sleepovers, though more often that not he stayed in my bag and my friends had to find other reasons to make fun of me.

Over the years, Bunny got pretty beat up. When I had pneumonia as a young child, I threw up on it twice. One of his eyes fell off when I was about ten, and one time I was twirling him around by his ear and I ripped the thing off. Thankfully, my mother, handy with a needle and thread, patched him up and away we went. He has half a foot and most of the gloss on his nose has mostly worn off. He looks every bit like a beat-up stuffed animal made in the 70's that has given a lot of love and received the same from a little boy growing up with very few friends.

Come to think of it, I find it extremely appropriate that he was a gift from my grandmother. He symbolically represents her very well in some respects.

The last ten years have not been the kindest to my grandmother. She was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease about ten years ago. She was already very skinny, and pretty tall for an older woman (in that respect, she did look a lot like Bunny), but from the point of the diagnosis, she started to decline pretty rapidly. A very vain woman all her life, small cracks began to appear in her exterior. Sometimes the lipstick would be a little off, or she would drop some food in her lap; a torn ear here, a loss of a little bit of gloss on the nose perhaps. She would fall on occasion and wind up in the hospital but always came back to life as usual. Too much love from a little boy and the rest of his family to go, even though she was well into her 80s at this point.

Nearly two years ago, my grandfather died and left her alone, and she started to decline in earnest. The shaking became more prevalent, the falls more common, the memories a little less vivid. In the last three months, there have been coversations where she would ask the same question repeatedly every five minutes, never remembring that she had just asked the same question moments prior. The fuzzy exterior that was always so comforting to us grew very thin, the softness diminished noticeably, but the core stuffing always remained.

As hard as it has been over the years to see her decline, she has always remained a comfort, a source of pleasant stories of the past and memories recounted late at night that helped ensure a pleasant night's sleep. When I left for college, in some respects she fell out of my life, she always was there with a smile and a glad to see you look whenever I visited. Just like Bunny, who still sits in my parent's house somewhere, waiting for me to return so he can tell me stories about a little boy growing up. Admittedly, it's a strange symbolism I see between my grandmother and my old stuffed animal, but it's definitely something I feel.

Early this morning, my grandmother passed away in her sleep. And all day I've been thinking about going home and finding my Bunny.