I had a cute rabbit, and I took a picture of him doing something cute. I posted the picture online and it quickly became famous around the world -- it was on the front page of Reddit, it's been featured in multiple Buzzfeed articles, it's gotten more than half a million notes on Tumblr and I can't even keep track of how many times it's been liked and shared on Facebook.
But what people don't know is that the cute rabbit is dead. I woke up one morning to find him convulsing on the ground and he died in my arms on the way to the vet. I held his body until it got cold and stiff, and now I keep his ashes next to my bed.
I did not deal with the loss well. That bunny was my everything. I got him when I was recovering from a car accident in India that nearly killed me -- I was fresh out of a wheelchair and rife with PTSD that left me terrified to leave the house or talk to people. Pikachu (that was his name) was the only thing that could get me out of bed in the morning and for a long time, he was the only thing I cared about.
I wouldn’t answer the phone when my friends called, but I would scour the city looking for the freshest organic baby carrots and flat leaf italian parsley for him. I was too socially anxious to get coffee or go see a movie, but I would carry Pikachu to the park every day in his little basket and let him play in the sun. He brought me back to life.
But he died, as bunnies tend to do with little or no warning. And now I feel like I'm being haunted by him. Every time his picture pops up, it's like a punch in the gut. The other day, I even caught sight of him on a stranger's iPhone wallpaper. I wanted to grab the phone out his hand, and tell this guy that that rabbit was MINE and he's DEAD, but that would be crazy so instead I just went home and cried for a while.
It just feels so weird. It's such a bizarre, 21st century experience that I don't even know how to describe it or what to compare it to. Maybe this is what it's like to have a famous relative who passes away? I feel like I've lost ownership of him and it upsets me.
Pikachu was so close to me. He slept in my bed with me every night -- I would rub his nose and ears until we both drifted off. And now he's a meme, he's everywhere, and it's like he doesn't belong to me.
It's not like I want people to stop posting his picture. That would be selfish and pointless, not to mention impossible. And it's not that I regret posting the pictures in the first place -- it made me feel so happy to see how much people loved him, and that other people apart from me could see what a magical sylvan creature he was.
It just feels so STRANGE to be haunted by this little spooky little ghost bunny who pops up all over the Internet, and probably will for the rest of my life. Maybe it will stop being painful one day. But right now, it hurts.