It's so difficult to write about you, Pendolino, "the most magnificent rabbit in the world," as I used to call you. A beautiful bunny boy with big brown eyes, long eyelashes and soft velvety fur. The memory of your wonderful personality lingers on in the emptiness of the years since your passing to the Rainbow Bridge.

I still speak with you while writing memories of you, my love, my all. Your being so special makes this story so long. So many wonderful memories, full of smiles and laughter that I have to leave out. Since your passing my life has been filled only with grief and longing for you.

I'll never forget the day in early January 1995 when I brought you home from Helsinki on the train. My daughter Laura had rushed to bring you to the railway station where I was waiting to change trains.

She had called me crying only two days before Christmas, telling that there was a rabbit in a pet store who would be put to death due to the business closing. She had seen you many times when buying food for her own rabbit. She said that you were very special, always trying to speak with her whenever she came to that store. I could not stand her crying and said that I'd take the rabbit after Christmas. Oh my Pendolino, my love, my one and only. You spent that Christmas alone in the store! My heart still bleeds when I think about that. Please forgive me all my mistakes then and after that!

We didn't know each other and I knew nothing about rabbits. But you showed your character at once on the train by nibbling a part of my journal, which I'd set on top of your cage, into pieces before I could react. You brave, energetic boy! You lived in the moment, not knowing what the future held for you!

While writing this, I'm sitting with you on that train today. Everything is clear in my mind - we are there now, Pendolino. I can only cry, remembering that, missing you endlessly.

You came home with me and slowly started to teach me what the meaning of life is. I remember how astonished I was looking at you, not knowing what had happened. I started to study what a rabbit needs to be comfortable, and could find only two books. But you, my baby, never cared about my books or mistakes. In your own silent way you taught me what to do. In what I thought was a reliable book, I read these words: "Rabbits are for some strange reason absolutely underestimated beings." After learning to know you, I truly agree!

Of course you needed a name. I had all kinds of ideas in my mind. At that time our state-owned train operating company had bought new top-speed Pendolino trains. After watching you many days, I decided that because of your ability to run like lightning and your sweet, beautiful muzzle Pendolino would be your name. Two or three years after your passing I saw a TV ad for the operating company and their lovely symbol was a rabbit!!!! What do you think about that Pendolino? Those trains were not meant for cold climate and have failed the passengers many times since. You never failed me!

Being with you was easy, my sweet unparalleled bunny boy, especially after I realized that I could let you be free in our house since you didn't like slippery floors and would always stay on the living room carpet. You took it for your own and lived your life there, taking part in our everyday life. In the afternoons I spread more carpets for you so that you could have more space, and you really did enjoy that extra space, especially when you were young and energetic and full of enthusiasm!

Our evenings together, you spent lying on the floor. When I stroked you, I was rewarded with a warm and tender lick of your tiny little tongue, followed by your small contented sigh, light as a feather. How I desperately miss those silent, sweet moments together!

And that one evening when you'd only been with us for a couple of weeks! You sat for a long time under our kitchen table like in the picture of your two years' memorial. I could see your back, and wanting to get to know you better I crept under the table and started to stroke you. You looked at me over your shoulder and said grmph! A deep, soft, guttural voice. It's very difficult to describe. I didn't even know that rabbits could speak! Oh my, you could! You talked a lot. After that we had many ways to communicate. In addition to using your body language you spoke with me with many variations of your grmph and sometimes guttural grrrrrrrrrrrrr when very excited or pleased.

Bit by bit you took my heart and soul, and I started to feel that there was something special in you, something I could not catch, more than just a lovely pet. In a strange way you became a symbol of all the fur, feather and other babies on earth, defenseless under humans’ indifferent, ugly and arrogant supremacy over other species.

Do you remember my hubby's words one day when I was playing with you and hoping you would have a good life with us? He was there looking at us and quite suddenly said, quoting the Bible, Matthew 25:45, "Just as you do for the least of these, you do for me." I'll never forget my hubby quoting those words even though he isn't a believer. Such important words, reminding us to care for all of God's creation.

But you were never "the least of these" - I know now that I was looking at the most beautiful creation of God in my life. Pendolino, you lived your own life with us, and separate from us, always contented. I had a strange feeling that you knew something we humans cannot understand. Not owing a cent, not being able to decide about your own life you were always ready to give everything you had, your unconditional love.

You made my days so happy and special. I remember the days when I'd be in the kitchen doing my own chores and would suddenly feel that someone was staring at me. And there you would be! Sitting on the top of your "summer cabin" (as we called the little cabin my hubby made for you; you can see it in the picture). You stared at me intensely, waiting for my attention. It was so sweet that I just had to forget my errands and go cuddle you and give you some treats, and try to persuade you to go to sleep. Daytime was your sleeping time but you wanted to play so eagerly and have fun during the weekends when I was at home the whole day.

All those years you lived as a member of our family, never seeing "the big wide world", but without a second's hesitation you were always ready for a game and joyous fun, day after day. I can see you now, in my hubby's arms, with him carrying you from window to window and showing you the view, trying (as he put it) to "widen your rabbit's horizon". And you just concentrated on nibbling his shirt button!

I read that unlike like dogs or cats, rabbits can never be taught to sit down, do this, do that. I never even tried to teach you. No, but you learned to know where your treats were, lol! Whenever I opened the door of the cupboard where I kept them you heard it and at once were running to and fro on your carpet waiting for your choco drops. You were able to show me what you wanted, my sweetheart, and I just loved it!

Drawing of Pendolino by my granddaughter Suvi when she was 4

Every day you transformed my homecoming into a huge celebration with your wild funny show, running round and round and round in a circle as if we had not seen each other for ages! And then we kissed and you licked my hand with your sweet tiny tongue.

There were moments full of agony too due to your bad tummy. When you had problems with your health I was devastated but you, you were always dignified. You only went to your cage silently and stayed there, patiently, sometimes grinding your teeth. That was the sign that you were in pain. I was devastated trying to figure out what was wrong. In despair I called the vet, who told me that it was probably furballs blocking your bowels and causing you pain. Later that horrible pasteurella slowly destroyed your health.

In the summer when you shed your fur we had to give you paraffin oil to get rid of the furballs blocking your bowels. We tried to make you swallow the liquid, hubby holding you and me with the syringe trying to make you swallow it. You fought like a lion against the procedure. Your hind legs were so strong that he had difficulties holding you! Afterward we all were soaked in paraffin oil and you were angry. You crawled to your cabin and sat there. I was heartbroken, just hoping fervently that the oil would help you, and in agony because I feared that you hate me. But after a couple of hours you were hopping around and carefully cleaning your fur, not angry at all. Once again, what a relief and joy! The whole house was full of life and light. We were happy again. And then we peacefully went on with our everyday life, talking and playing together. I want to remember you like that, eagerly participating in the everyday life of your family, full of love and enthusiasm.

Your pranks!!! Do you remember the day when my hubby once again blamed me for making a fuss about you. Making a fuss!!!!???? We only had evenings and weekends together. On one day I was on my knees on the floor playing with you, hubby sitting in his chair watching TV and grumbling about it once again. After running around looking hilarious you suddenly jumped on my lap and at the same time pooped one single dropping mid air. It landed directly on hubby! That was something I'll never forget! I laughed and laughed, you ran around like lightning to my lap and away, around your cabin and oh my, we two really had fun! He could only roll his eyes and say, "This is not true!" After that he never complained about me fussing about you.

You, my love, destroyed the chair in the picture. That's all the damage you ever caused. I remember when I came home and you were sitting on that chair staring at me very intently and proudly. The floor was full of the chair's stuffing. I could see and hear you saying "Hi, old mom! Do you see what I have done? I have had a great day!" You jumped down and ran to me and I could only laugh and kiss you. You had had a wonderful day and I could only be happy for you!!!! And hubby? He was boiling with anger (it was his chair) saying, "There, this rabbit is destroying our house". Yup, a little rabbit is destroying our house! I laughed even more and bought a new chair.

Of course he then forgot the new chair on your carpet and you dutifully destroyed that one too. I didn't care about the chairs; I was only afraid that the stuffing would block your stomach and we'd have to go through that awful paraffin oil session again that we all hated. It was so sad to buy a chair without any stuffing. No fun for you anymore.

I never for a moment, not for an iota of a second, thought that one day you'd leave this world and me. That possibility never existed in my mind, ever! People mentioned it when you were old, but I refused to even think about it. I said Yeah, yeah and went to play with you, my only and all, Pendolino.

We fought against that horrible disease pasteurella for years, but in the end there was no help any more. You stopped fighting against taking any medication, patiently swallowing everything I gave you. In a way you didn't care about that so much. Slowly pasteurella killed you, and it killed me too. It broke my heart into a million pieces. I don't want to write about that long sad time you went through when you and I fought against it. It's another story.

Hubby's drawing of Pendolino watching the sunset

During your last weeks here on earth I had some special and bittersweet moments following your life. I felt something so delicate in your behavior that I cannot put it into words. You always liked to bathe in the sunshine, but during your last weeks you started to watch the sunsets every day, day after day, sitting silently alone until the last rays of sun left the room. You'd never done it before. Our always realistic hubby mentioned it to me too. Your peace, your dignity, the feeling that you were living in your own world not caring so much about anything around you. You were old and sick and I think you knew what was in store for you. I believe that you knew you were going back to your Creator.

Now afterward I know everything was meant to happen as it did. I had tried to do everything and control everything in my life on my own. I learned how little I really could control . Our Lord gave you to me for a loan for those years. He decided to take you back and gave me the hardest lesson of my life. The words Man proposes, God disposes became so true in my life. God loaned you to me to show what unconditional love means, and that everything is in His hands. I cannot control life even if I so desperately try.

When I was making your two year memorial something amazing happened. The night before your Bridgeday I had finished my work with your picture when I looked out the kitchen window feeling sad and empty. There! Oh my, I hardly could believe my eyes! Sitting peacefully in exactly the same position as you in the photo of the picture I just had finished was a little hare in our yard . Same color and size, slim like you during your last months!

Quite suddenly the little one crawled under our barn. I had never seen anything like that before nor afterwards! I had to walk around in our kitchen just wondering if I was dreaming. When I went back to the window the little hare crawled back out to the yard and started eating grass, very concentrated on it just like you always were, even with the same head gestures! I could only stare and stare, almost without a breath! Then after a while the little hare hopped elegantly away and was gone! I'll never forget the frail and beautiful atmosphere of that moment.

Nor will I forget that wonderful rainbow in Midsummer over your grave one year after your passing. It was enormous, bright colors, breathtaking!

When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.

My sweet, wonderful Pendolino, I cannot find words to tell you how much I love you forever and miss you endlessly, until we meet again.


The Lighthouse - for pet loss grief support