This is the Velveteen Rabbit. The same picture hangs in my house.
I’ve never bought any artwork in my life previously. I’ve never really “got it”.
I walked passed the picture in a shop window most days back from the gym, and something kept reaching out to me. I’d stop and just look at the picture for several minutes before continuing my journey.
One time I even passed the picture, then turned back to spend a few idle minutes contemplating what it was that I drawn to.
My wife, Julie, eventually told me if something was pulling me so strongly, I should buy it. So now it hangs in my house.
I realised quickly what it was.
We lost our daughter, Tia to stillbirth on August 31 2010. My wife, after 9 months was finally in labour, and between the hours of labour and getting to hospital, she was lost. She never came home with us.
I have no proof that she exists. There were no baby clothes, no balloons, no happy photos.
It was like she didn’t exist at all, and that somehow her existence was invalid.
I struggled with this a lot. I still do at times.
But I see the picture of Velveteen Rabbit. He stands there, upright and proud. Standing against the wind, feeling it on his fur and blowing his ears back. Defiant with love. “I shall exist”.
In that moment, that tiny moment, the Velveteen Rabbit does exist, against all odds. He’s loved, and seen.
I always think of Tia when I look at that picture. She’s not here any more. She doesn’t exist in my world today. But she’s always with me. She has left a mark. In my heart. I think of her and miss her. Other people can’t see that, but she is here, with me.
A person doesn’t have to be with you for you to love them. Just remember them. And love them. And they’ll live on, with you.