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.

1 comment:

  1. I had a favorite teddy bear growing up and have it to this day. The difference now is that it has become my daughter's favorite teddy bear. She sleeps with it every night and says it's extra special because it was once mine. If he had been created in the year that my grandmother gave him to me (on my 5th birthday), then this teddy bear is now 33 years old.