“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.
“It’s a thing that happens to you.
When a child loves you for a long, long time,
not just to play with, but REALLY loves you,
then you become Real.”
~The Velveteen Rabbit
Last Saturday, on a trip to the mall in Nashville, we lost a member of the family…
Sammy has been her BFF since she was a year old. I came across him at Hallmark when the Webkinz craze was in full swing and bought him on a whim to go with her witch Halloween costume. Little did I know that he would become her constant companion from the moment she saw him.
She slept with him every single night and every single nap. She couldn’t go to sleep if she didn’t have her Sammy. She hung him by his tail over the edge of her stroller so he could “walk,” chewed on his nose while she was teething, and always carried him the same way, with his tail folded up in her fist and his body tucked under her arm. By last Saturday, Sammy’s hair was matted, his filling was flattened, and his nose was completely chewed off. He was grubby and, quite frankly, he didn’t smell too good. But he was loved. And he was real.
When we couldn’t find him at the restaurant where we left him, we put up a Lost sign, put an ad in Craigslist, and left a number with the restaurant just in case somebody decided to return him. She cried for a while but was convinced that he would come back to her. I put her to bed that night, then I hid in the bathroom and sobbed into a towel, knowing that we had probably lost Sammy forever. Then I washed my face and ordered a new Sammy on eBay.
I worried about what she would think. Would she accept him as Sammy, or think he was just an imitation Sammy, not worthy of her love? Today, he arrived and as Daddy held him out to her, she studied him for a minute. “That’s not my Sammy,” she declared. But then she took him, and tucked him under her arm, and didn’t put him down for the rest of the day. She isn’t quite sure yet if this is the Sammy, or just a new Sammy, but she has declared him to be Sammy, and for now that is good enough.
Tonight as she was going to bed, she told me that she was going to sleep with Sammy “with his hair all crooked.” I said “his hair is all crooked?” She said, “Yes, when somebody loses him, it makes his hair all crooked.” I don’t blame you, Sammy, if I got left behind at KFC it would probably make my hair all crooked too.