Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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The Runaway Bunny

It froze right on the double yellow lines and I saw its eyes open wide with fear. I hit my brakes at the same time the little rabbit finally moved, darting away from my oncoming wheels and then, jarringly, back into them.

I swerved, cranking the wheel right, but not too hard, aware that over-correcting is the cause of many fatal crashes... And then, realizing the bunny's life was out of my hands, I tensed, yelled SHIT! through gritted teeth and waited for the telltale thump that would indicate the end of a life.

In the ensuing seconds I had time to wonder if a rabbit so small squaring off with an SUV nearing 50 MPH would even create a thump and immediately/fearfully scanned my rear view mirror.

Nothing. It made it. IT MADE IT.

"You said a bad word, mommy." Violet, unaware of the life and death scenario unfolding before my eyes, stated calmly from the back seat. "Mama said a bad word, Henry." She gushed delightedly to her little brother.

"Mommy said a bad word." He dutifully repeated.

"Yes. Mama said a bad word." I said flatly, the faint fluttering of a panic attack knocking around my system. My heart was pounding because I've never, to my knowledge, killed an animal while driving and, knock on wood, I am not looking forward to breaking my streak. But something else was happening to me. Something more than narrowly avoiding mowing down Thumper on highway 64. My heart was pounding, chest tightening, throat thick and sandpapery, and my nose began to tingle with tears as my mind replayed seeing the look in the scared little rabbit's eyes as he froze and then tried to run away from certain death.

And then I just broke. I turned up the radio and did my best to hide it from my children. My beautiful, sweet children who are blissfully unaware that such awfulness exists in the world. These little beings whose lives have seemed so intensely fragile since that day, the day the backpacks exploded. During the days I've moved as if through water, a heaviness in my heart and at night I feel the crushing weight of mortality pressing down on me, menacing every thought and it's all so scary - all the Who Knows and the What Ifs... Who knows what could happen any second and what if someone with evil in their heart stole it all from me? It happens all the time; moms lose their babies every day...

It wasn't the rabbit. I mean, it was the rabbit but it wasn't really. After more than a week down the rabbit hole of CNN I think I finally cracked. Sometimes terrible things dominate the headlines and I manage to avoid the specifics because, after working in the news industry for years and being forced to learn the details of various crimes and tragedies, not having to know feels luxurious. But this time I couldn't NOT know. I had to know. It was my duty to know. Every detail. Every photo. Every video. I've seen it all.

I stuffed each new horrific detail into my soul and, as with an overflowing garbage can, just kept on jamming in the stories, packing them tighter and tighter and tighter, forcing them to fit into my overwhelmed system. The heroic stories, the stories of survival, the confusion over such an overtly evil act committed by two seemingly nice boys/men/whatever, and the stories of the dead.

The boy. Martin. I can't even. I just...

I don't need to tell you. You don't even want to be reading this because, like me, you just want everything to be okay again and here some asshole is harping about it two weeks later... But I can't stop thinking about Martin's mama. I feel nauseated all the time. It's a constant weight on my soul. We all just want to get some more living out of the way so we can put distance between ourselves and the horror, but her nightmare is just beginning.

I think that's what happened when I almost hit the bunny. A tiny thing. In imminent danger. I saw the stark fear in its eyes as it tried to escape danger and the past two weeks just erupted from my system.

“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are
my little bunny.”

The Richard Family Fund

Reader Comments (6)

I'm from Boston and today I went there, where he and those two lovely young women were killed. IT WAS SO HARD NO TO BREAK DOWN. I did that Friday night, after being on lockdown and watching the town next to me on the news... Less than a mile from my house. I did a few times last week. Everyday is getting better. Healing. Our city is healing as best we can and hopefully our hearts are too. My son is 2 weeks younger than Violet. I find myself trying to be a better mom and taking more time/hugs/kisses/ with him while pushing the horror of that poor mother out of my head. I'm just so grateful for every moment.

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJilly

aw...the sweetness of that exchange between your children is as endearing as Thumper chatting to Bambi in the woods. Yes, you do everything you can to protect them. Pray protection over them. It's amazing when I think of anyone making it to their old age with all of the danger in the world, but it happens ALL the time. Whole families survive and have years and years of birthdays. Then comes the loss at the end, Are we ever prepared? Shouldn't we all just avoid large crowds?. And then there are the tall buildings, highways, flammables, poisons, sharp items, guns, fireworks, stairs, elevators, fire, motorcycles and airplanes, mass transit, finish lines and manholes, sinkholes, meatforks and nails and glass? Shall we just ask God to protect us and take our chances? I have no bunnies to protect in that motherly way, and only a mother really knows what a mother goes through in these instances, but I do feel that heaviness of heart,a misery hanging like fog. While we empathize with all of the hurting, this overload of information can lead to disturbing thoughts and symptoms like you are encountering here. I have been deep in dumps as well Monica, and wonder when the skies are going to clear and should they, since the world is in endless turmoil, and what right have we to feel happiness? I have been watching far too much video footage concerning Nazi concentration camps trying to wrap my mind around these horrors and then wonder why I am feeling so bad. It's as if I have been inviting evil into my mind, into my home. Here I was blaming the full moon for every new low, but am now coming to realize the consequences of packing the nervous system with every stinking detail of horror in the world. I have decided that it is quite important to protect the mind and emotions just as you protect your babies. Let it have some down time to heal. Time to clean house. We all need a break from this endless barrage of incoming news missiles. I do anyway. Peace. And good words.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergina

Weird that you wrote this. I have been doing everything in my power to avoid anything that has to do with the bombing. I was so angry at all of the people celebrating in the street when he was captured because all i could think of was Martin's mother and the mothers of the other two girls.I'm still sick over it. we are going to have this huge crushing weight of fear on our chestsof our lives. It crushed me as soon as the doctor put my daughter in my arms and basically it just gets worse. ...does anyone else feel that way? Did my mom feel that way? The love we have for our children is so strong is fucking hurts and sometimes I just can't deal with loving someone so much.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

Just thought I'd mention: it's never a good idea to swerve--for any type of wildlife, other than a moose--but particularly not for a rabbit. Swerving to avoid wildlife kills about 200 people each year, and should never be attempted, especially with kids in the car.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranon

"During the days I've moved as if through water, a heaviness in my heart and at night I feel the crushing weight of mortality pressing down on me, menacing every thought and it's all so scary - all the Who Knows and the What Ifs... Who knows what could happen any second and what if someone with evil in their heart stole it all from me? It happens all the time; moms lose their babies every day... "

So perfectly describing my nights these days. between Sandy Hook and the bombings and everything in between. I - ...I don't know what to say, other than this reasonated.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjenfromboston

As a Londoner who grew up in the UK during the Northern Ireland Troubles, all I can say is you don't realise it now but it never really goes away it lingers.
I just about lost my shit (albeit quietly in my head) when a man left his laptop on the train seat to (unbeknown to me) go and use the bathroom, he was only gone a couple of minutes.
You could explain it as ... wow the man is a trusting soul, anyone could of stolen his laptop;
or seen it like me, in full blown 80's freak out scenerio .... is that laptop, sitting on a chair without an owner, a potential bomb.
Do you know not one person on the train said anything to him when he came back from the loo, woo how brave are we!!

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersuze

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