I stumbled across a picture on the internet this week that almost instantly brought tears to my eyes. It was an artist’s rendering of a grown-up Calvin, discovering old Hobbes in a box in the attic. *pauses* *takes fortifying breath* A little verklempt just talking about…
Ahem. Anyway, it made me think of Toy Story 3, and the tragedy of leaving toys behind as we grow up. Good Lord – I cried SO HARD during that movie. Like, ugly cried. People were edging away.
But, as with many other snifflers out there, there was a good reason for my tears.
Yes, you all know that I am a closet Snoopy lover, and that his little beagle face makes my heart go pitter patter. But what you don’t know is that love affair started with a foot tall stuffed animal I received somewhere around the first grade. He was magnificent! Wearing sassy conductor overalls with a handy cutout for his tail, Snoopy was the perfect companion.
He was solid enough to keep my wild, vivid dreams and the occasional nightmares at bay, soft enough to bury my face in his chest and cry, and sturdy enough to follow me on every trip I took.
He followed me on the adventures I took into the woods near our house, and listened to my stories from school. He joined me at my first sleepover, and rode out many a thunderstorm at my side. His fur gradually turned from white to brownish gray, but he was still gorgeous to me. I remember once when we were one a camping trip with my family, and I was gleefully tossing him in the air, trying to see how high he could soar. It was all fun and games until he plummeted back to Earth just out of my reach and landed flat on his face.
I gasped, horrified that I might have hurt him, and gathered him up into my arms. Tears sprang to my eyes when I saw the extent of his wounds. The threads holding the shape of his perfect little round, black nose had busted, leaving just a fuzzed out ball of yarn.
My dearest friend, wounded by my own hands. I cradled him gently to my chest, promising to take care of him, to make him whole again. But when I showed him to my mom, she just shook her head sadly. What was done was done, and now we both had to live with it.
From that day on, our relationship changed. I was too scared to take him on trips anymore, for fear that his fraying nose would be further damaged. I no longer felt safe sleeping with him tangled in my arms—what if I hurt him? So I kept him at arm’s length, making sure he could see me when I was near, but never again dragging him on my adventures.
|Snoopy in his place of honor, slightly worse for the wear|
It wasn’t long after that I realized I was growing up. By then I was nearly ready to make the transition to middle school, and middle schoolers didn’t play with dolls and stuffed animals.
After one last summer with him looking on and me struggling with growing into a young woman, I finally came to terms with what I had to do. So, one late summer day when the house was quiet, I pulled Snoopy into my lap one last time. I rubbed a hand over his matted fur, memorized the feel of it beneath my fingers. I carefully adjusted his overall straps, making sure they were nice and tidy, and finally turned him around so I could talk to him face to face.
I don’t remember my exact words. Tears flowed down my cheeks, dampening his little feet as they dripped from my jaw. I told him that I loved him, and I always would remember him. I thanked him for being my buddy, and for sharing my childhood with me. I was happier for having known him, and he should be proud of that.
Kissing the top of his head and the end of his ruined nose, I carefully tucked him away in my closet, knowing that nothing would ever be the same.
Oh, the passage of time, my friends. It does seem to move faster than we are ever prepared for, does it not? I’m just glad for the memories that we are left with, and the small but distinct Snoopy-shaped love in my heart that I still carry, nearly 25 years later.
Tell me, did you have a special friend who defined your childhood? Or do your children now cling to their own little buddies? Tell me I wasn’t the only one balling my eyes out as Woody and Buzz said their final goodbyes to Andy!