If you’ve read The Velveteen Rabbit, you likely remember the first time you picked up the book, the reading process, and even the culminating ending…

Has the story stayed with you the years hence? Does it affect your story–the way you write and live?

The story means more to me than I can properly put into words, and it will always seem like a kind of magic must have attended the author when she wrote the marvelous lines that infuse the book with life. Why? Well, my son has a “Velveteen rabbit”–your kids may have one too (or perhaps it’s a beloved toy of a different sort). My son was given his little rabbit when he was just a few months old (it was a belated Easter present), and that little stuffed-and-dilapidated toy has been through every imaginable experience.

When my son was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer at 18 months, Rarar (his Velveteen Rabbit) was there beside him. He clutched the bunny when he went through course-after-course of treatment. When I rocked him to sleep for CT exams, my son would hold the bunny up to his nose (so he could smell the lavender-infused fur). For 5-day stints on the Specialty-Care Unit (6th Floor), and surgeries that sometimes lasted all day–Rarar was there. Long nights of nausea and vomiting–endlessly strolling the floor–his Velveteen pal was ever at hand (sheathed in plastic at times, run through hot dryers, gently cleaned and cared-for–all to keep him close for comfort).

You can see that Rarar is well-worn. Most of his fur has rubbed off; his eyes and whiskers disappeared long ago. Rarar’s arms and legs have fallen off (and been surgically re-attached, while my son held his furry paw). There have also been a few times when I feared that little bunny was lost forever (dropped on the way back from the park, pushed to a corner of the room, and left behind with friends). Each time, the bunny came back–he seems unstoppable/unsinkable. Rarar has been there–a constant comfort.

While I know that change is inevitable, and we all grow up (no longer finding comfort in those long-lost toys), it’s also a reminder of where we’ve been, as well as an inspiration. Among life’s many lessons, I’ve learned…

  • While I’ve never had a Velveteen Rabbit of my very own (in the form of a bunny or critter), writing has been my solace and inspiration.
  • It’s out of the hardest of times that we learn our greatest strengths and weaknesses. It’s become cliche, I know… but also so true.
  • Sometimes it’s the little things (even a smile, or a stuffed animal) that make the biggest difference in our struggles–both epic and everyday.

Is there a Velveteen of the traditional (or a different sort) in your life–it’s that one thing that has seemed to make all the difference in the world? How has it affected you and your writing?

If you don’t have a Velveteen, do you wish for it–that one thing that will offer solace, and help you feel like you’re not alone? Or, if you know of someone who is going through a difficult time, is a Velveteen exactly what they need?

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8 COMMENTS

  1. My daughters were both attached to very ugly blankets. But I did attend a wedding recently where the Velveteen Rabbit was read, which was just perfect, don’t you think? But you’re right, solace and comfort comes in different forms for each of us. For my father, who is dealing with heart failure, it’s his garden.

  2. I am glad that little stuffed toy brought comfort to your child during a difficult time. My mom and mother-in-law both make quilts, and they provide great comfort to me and my children. My mom made me a tied quilt when I left for college. 25 years later, it was well worn, so she made me a replacement one. We probably have about 30 quilts ranging from baby blankets to quilts that can fit on a queen sized bed. They are so much cozier than store-bought blankets! I’m very grateful for the time, talent and money they spent to make these for us.

  3. True Story: I had a baby blanket that I placed my face on to sleep until I was 30 YEARS OLD! My mother said no man would marry me. Hahhaaaa- was she wrong. And so much safer then sleeping pills. ps: I hope your son is doing well.

  4. The idea of self soothing is so important. My daughter had a “balnkie” that we retired but brings a comforting smile to me when I run across it. I have to admit that I too still a “talisman” that brings me peace and comfort and even courage when I need it.

  5. My son is going through cancer treatments now. Monthly exams where my heart drops until I get the “all clear.” So I don’t have a Velveteen Rabbit and at 21 neither does he. But we hang on to other things, don’t we. Whatever we can grasp….

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