Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Cuddles. Wednesday, August 18, 2010.
“It is astonishing how many thoroughly mature, well-adjusted grown-ups harbour a teddy bear - which is perhaps why they are thoroughly mature and well-adjusted.” - Joseph Lempa
When my cat Chloe developed cancer and died last winter, I suffered a great loss. She had been my friend for 14 years; she’d been in my life longer than most of the people I know. And even though I suspect she was a little bipolar herself, I could always count on her to be soft and fluffy.
A few days after our final goodbye, when the sight of Chloe’ collar or toys would move me to tears, I noticed a Beanie Baby in my room that I’d forgotten about. She was a little cat, the same color as Chloe. I baptized her Chloe II and began to carry her around the house with me. As I made our dinner or settled in to watch television with my husband and son, Chloe II was in my pocket or at my side.
I didn’t bring Chloe II to work with me (after all, I hadn’t brought Chloe I either!) but I remembered a co-worker of mine from 20 years ago, Dez. Dez was a very pretty blonde, the cheerleader type. She was bright and witty. She had a difficult job at the newspaper, writing about police and criminals and courts; she was fearless and did her job well. Dez was highly educated and very professional.
She also carried a teddy bear with her to and from work each day.
The newsroom of a newspaper is a place where you can get chewed up and spat out if you don’t have a thick skin. It’s not a place for pansies. My co-workers drank a lot, swore a lot, and cast a cynical eye on everything. But no one ever asked Dez about the bear. It may have been the vibe she gave off: Don’t go there with me. Dez seemed well-adjusted and not “weird” at all. The bear never came up in conversation.
Eventually Dez found a job closer to her hometown, so she and her bear left us. We stayed friends, and one weekend I visited her. That night she confided something to me that she’d never told anyone on our staff: she had given up a baby for adoption just a few weeks before starting her job at our newspaper. Ah. No wonder the bear.
Chloe II has gone back into the pile of animals. But she’s been replaced with Skye, a yellow bunny my husband gave me at Easter time. When I come home from work, I start dinner, change into sweats, grab Skye and watch TV with my family. If I’m feeling fragile, I stroke him, because he’s very soft. When it’s time for bed, I kiss my husband goodnight and I bring Skye with me.
Life is difficult right now. I’m not going to pretend it isn’t. And if a little stuffed rabbit gives me a measure of comfort, so be it. Just like Chloe, I can always count on Skye to be soft and fluffy.