Tell Me Again, About the Rabbits

This year has been an odd one for me because I have read much more than I’ve written. I began working down a list of the “100 greatest works of fiction.” I had read many of them, but I found two giant holes in my library: modern books and American literature. So I dove into Harry Potter, The Help, and Game of Thrones interspersed with Melville, Hemingway, and Steinbeck.

That last one, Steinbeck… he hit me in the teeth with Of Mice and Men. I respect his ability to pack such deep, meaningful characters and a heartbreaking story into 112 pages. That is genius. Most authors today seem to write for the trilogy or get so enamored with their own words that 112 pages is barely a back-story. It also hit me because I could identify with Lennie and the rabbits.

The impoverished and simple Lennie just dreams of holding a rabbit in his palm and stroking its soft fur. But he can’t. He can’t and never will. So he constantly begs George for stories about the rabbits.

bunnyTell me again, about the rabbits

The rabbits represent something of substance that a hopeless drifter has no chance of claiming. The rabbits are a thing just out of reach – a dream that could never come true. That thing we want, but cannot have.

We’ve all dreamed of things we couldn’t have. Sometimes it’s a person or a relationship. Often it is just that we want more: more money, more stuff, more recognition. More would make it better and fill the void.

Most of the things we spend our time dreaming about are material. With the right preparation, bankroll, or a stroke of luck, they could be attained. But like Lennie, the thing I want I cannot have. I want it so badly that I often feel my bones ache to fill the void.

Tell me again, about the rabbits

Labor Day Weekend four years ago brought news that Kylie’s cancer treatment had failed. We were scheduled for a five-day hospital stay; but they sent us home while they planned a new course. Because of the unanticipated time with her sisters, Kylie was thrilled. But that news marked the beginning of a downward spiral. We never got ahead of the cancer until we lost her months later.

I will never hold her again, or hear her say “daddy”, or see how she reacts to the attention of boys. I’ll never be able to see her on stage, share a cup of coffee, or walk her down the aisle. Those are things I want and cannot have. I can never have. I will never have.

Contentment is elusive when you see people all around holding their rabbits and your rabbit is but a memory.

But along with the ache that comes from wanting something you will never have comes a paradox. While I live in jealousy of rabbitful families, I don’t begrudge them their rabbits. I want everyone to have their own and joyfully hold them forever. I just want mine, too.

Tell me again, about the rabbits

And so, like Lennie, I dream. I am a drifter in this life who dreams an impossible dream about holding a thing I will never again hold. I smile, I work, I play, I have laughter and fun… and yet the allure of the rabbit’s soft fur always tugs at my heart. It’s a beautiful dream that necessarily awakens to a sobering reality. My palm is empty… there is no rabbit. There will never and can never be a rabbit.

Tell me again, about the rabbits

Lennie settles for stories about rabbits and so must I… in this life.

But I believe there is a day coming when my dream will come true… when Kylie will take my hand and show me a land of promise and reward to which no work of fiction can compare. That belief, though resolute, rarely makes the waiting here easier. I see now that this life will be difficult until that day.

But still, I will dream.

Tell me again, about the rabbits



The Last Dance

I’ve been watching her dance for thirteen years. I’ve seen her grow from a tiny cherub whose only job was to jump in time while spreading her arms into a tall, graceful beauty who performs leaps and turns that hurt my feet just to watch. A few weeks ago, we attended her last dance. She is graduating and will move on.

From the start, she loved every bit of it: the costumes, the pageantry, the art. Somewhere down the line, it got harder. She learned that perfection requires rehearsal, effort, and repetition. Over and over again they worked until pieces were performance ready. Still she loved it.

Two days a week turned into four and sometimes five. She developed muscle, then willpower to curb her diet. She fought through injuries and the pain that comes from stress and over-use. She fought to become the best dancer she could be. She became a dancer.

In times of joy, in times of grief, in times of unabashed celebration, uncertainty or pain, what does a dancer do? A dancer dances.


In losing her little sister to cancer, she proved the importance of dance. She danced through her grief. Dance became her outlet, her solace, and her comfort. She choreographed and dedicated dances to her – pushing through with silent, beautiful art.

She danced.

I’ve seen her get parts she wanted and watched her handle the disappointment of losing with grace.



At her last recital, she was featured along with the other two graduating seniors in several numbers. They’ve grown up together… become best friends. I believe one of my favorite things, however, was watching her with the baby dancers she now teaches. How incredible that she is now able to pass on her passion to little girls who might perform their last dance thirteen years hence.

In the end, the three danced together as they said goodbye – beautifully mourning the end, yet rejoicing for the years together, and pointing toward the bright futures ahead. The last dance.


But a week later they were asked to repeat their final dance in a church service where it became an offering to the God who created dance. It was lovely to behold with the dark wooden beams above and the stained glass behind them. I went thinking we were lucky to get a bonus performance – a second last dance. But as I watched through tears, it dawned on me that even this isn’t the last dance… because a dancer always dances. Through it all, a dancer dances.

She will graduate high school with honors and has decided to put college on hold to focus on dance. I don’t know how I would have felt about that a few years ago. Maybe I would have thought school too important to delay. But experience has taught me that to follow a passion is far more important what this world says one should do. She has found what she loves at seventeen years old and I envy her that.

This girl of mine… she is a dancer.

And in the end, a dancer dances.