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I’m not exactly sure how mourning’s supposed to go. At least, not this time. I’ve dealt with loss before. A young coworker’s tragic death at her sister’s wedding. An uncle succumbing to cancer. My childhood best friend’s mother to breast cancer, his father to Alzheimer’s, and him to suicide. Others were lost to drugs, age, or poor choices. Some, as Vonnegut put it, were gone simply due to “accidents in a busy place.”
None were Meredith. A best friend, a lover, an ex, an “it’s complicated”, an irreplaceable hub of my world, and in the world of everyone who knew her. She was something else. A voice like a cartoon mouse and a high pitched, snorting laugh. Irish pale with strawberry blond hair, a bit of pudge, and a bright smile. A 28-year-old who still dressed like the spunky reporter in a 90’s rom-com. A dreamer who couldn’t contain her excitement when talking about her next project. Dedicated to her goals with a business mind that could make them happen. Loyal to her friends. Obsessed with food and sex. She came from a tough past, and dealt with depression, chronic pain, allergies, migraines, stomach problems, and asthma. But she never let the hard luck that seemed to define her life keep her down. She balanced it all with an enormous heart that drew everyone in.
I loved her. We’d dated for a year, and had been on and off for another year. I don’t think we ever stopped loving each other. Then, we finally talked about our future together. About kids someday. About how our flaws weren’t worse than the best parts of ourselves. And we got back together. Two weeks later, she hung herself. The note spoke of her chronic pain, that she couldn’t see a life ahead without suffering. And an apology to the roommate who would find her, which was a very Meredith thing to do.
After her suicide, my life was numbness and crying. After that, it was that vague feeling where you know you’re going to throw up at some point but you don’t know when, and you’re kind of hoping you do it just so the feeling goes away. It was that feeling but with sobbing. For half a year. Meanwhile, life happened. I moved away, and thought I moved on. There was no anger at her choice. I also suffered from depression and understood how Meredith could see only that one way out. She was trapped in a body that kept betraying her. I missed her every day. Then I started writing about her death. Another wave of grief hit and a lot of things stopped. Except for the sobbing.
One day, as I was browsing Imgur because writing is hard, I came across an online comic. It was of a cute, white rabbit dressed in a flowy polka dotted dress. Her long floppy ears hung down like parted hair beneath a huge red beret. Wide, excited eyes. A bit of pudge around her middle. In the first Rosianna Rabbit comic, the titular character spies a British pound note on the ground, bends over to pick it up, and her panties rip. Everyone sees this and laughs. Disheartened, she climbs to the top of a building and leaps off, snagging her ripped panties on a pipe. She hangs there upside down. Everyone sees this and laughs. It was dark, cute, strange, endearing, and funny. Full of heart, sensitivity, and bad luck. It was Meredith. Excited, I copied the web address to send to her. She’d love it. We’d texted each other online comics nearly every day, usually Cyanide & Happiness or Poorly Drawn Lines, or some meme from Imgur that reminded us of each other.
As I opened up my email to paste it in, I remembered that she wouldn’t receive it. There was no one on the other end. It was another of those daily reality checks that she was gone forever. Her voice, her laugh, her jokes and stories were now just digital files and memories. So I sent it to the people who knew her best. They agreed that the resemblance between our departed friend and a cartoon rabbit was eerily canny. Then they forgot about it. I didn’t. The tagline of Rosianna Rabbit reads: “A sweetheart with a lot of issues.” That was Meredith. Obsessed with food, obsessed with sex, sometimes petty or selfish, other times with an enormous heart, occasionally depressed and suicidal. Flawed, hard-headed, lovable, worldly, and yet obliviously childlike at times.
Was I projecting? Almost certainly. I also questioned if I might be going a little crazy, but that happened long before I met Meredith. It didn’t stop me from pouring through all the episodes multiple times. In the end, I decided that it was weird, and a little obsessive, but it wasn’t harming anyone. They made me feel better. I wrote to the author to tell him of this strange situation. That this little-known cartoon he draws in Britain comforts me because it reminds me of a dead loved one he’ll never meet. He took it as sensitively as he could. I’m not sure if there’s a right way to respond to a stranger telling you that your weird humour comic about a cartoon animal who once fell into dog poo while making a snow angel is helping them cope with a devastating loss.
Since I found Rosianna Rabbit, I eagerly await for the next comic to be posted. Every time I read it, I see Meredith’s spirit contained in the panels about a cartoon rabbit who’s been eaten by a dragon, burned by lava, beaten up Santa, crashed the Titanic, attempted suicide multiple times, and continued plowing through these disastrous adventures. And week after week, she comes back. Maybe that’s the part that comforts me most.
In the end, I have no idea if there’s a right way to mourn anyone. Grief has no set pattern. Each loss is as unique as the individual who’s passed on. So I guess this is how this one is going to go. Waking up to another day knowing at some point there’ll be a new memory of our time together, another thing I’ll never have the chance to tell her, another regret to accept and another warm moment between us to relive. More tears waiting to happen as the grief comes in waves, with no idea if I’m heading up the trough or back down. And now, there’s a small obsession with a cartoon rabbit. But I’m moving forward through it all. I think that’s how healing starts.