When I was about eight years old, I received my first real pet. It was a bunny and I named her Snowball. I can still remember the cold Christmas morning when I first laid eyes on her. I got out of bed and raced to the Christmas tree to see all of the presents that friends and family had sent me. My Dad was overjoyed to see the look on my face as I ripped open each gift. After all of my presents were open my Dad said, “I have one more surprise for you. Close your eyes and take my hand.” I did as I was told, not knowing what I was getting or where we were going. My mind was racing, thinking about what was going to happen next. All of a sudden we stopped walking. I stood still for a second; I could feel the smooth, cold floor under my warm toes. After an eternity, my Dad let go of my hand and excitedly spoke, “Ok! You can open your eyes!” As I peeked through my fingers I saw a white ball of fuzz hopping around inside the cage. I was so happy and excited that I could hardly speak. I sat down next to the cage and started petting the small creature inside. As I looked up at my Dad, a rush of emotion came over me and I started crying, I was so delighted.
As the days passed on, my love for her grew. Everyday after school I would rush to Snowball’s cage and check to make sure that she was doing ok. I did not mind cleaning her cage or making sure she had enough food and water because she was my pet and I had to make sure these things were taken care of. I loved her with all of my heart.
One day, about two years later, I was spending time at one of my friends’ house. When I arrived home my Dad walked into the room and told me to come with him, so I followed. He led me outside; out of the corner of my eye I noticed a small towel on the ground. I started to worry. My Dad hesitantly told me that my beloved Snowball had died. I didn’t know what to think or say. As I looked at her motionless body on the ground, a wave of sadness rushed over me. It seemed like one moment I was on top of the world and then WHAM! I got a big dose of reality. My heart and my mind started racing, I was trying to come up with reasons of how this could have happened. My legs felt shaky and wobbly, I had to sit down. My Dad tried to comfort me but I had to get through this on my own. I cried for a long time, thinking about how something that I loved so deeply slipped away in an instant.
I learned a lot about life and death that night, and now the death of Snowball doesn’t seem so bad. Even though she had died doesn’t take away from the memories I have of her. I believe that Snowball’s role in my life was to help me learn coping skills. Through her life, I learned the process of grieving and how to cope with death.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.