Charlie has been in my life since I was three.
For many years he slept with me at night, and kept watch over my room during the day. He did spend some time in a box, but right now is living on a shelf in my closet.
Last night, as I walked past him, I stopped and looked into that face. I picked him up and smelled him, and said “Hi” for the first time in a long time. I thought about all the years we’ve shared together, all the secrets of mine that he knows and will never tell…and how much we’ve both changed since that day so many years ago when he came into my life.
I had just had my tonsils out. I’m pretty sure the whole experience was traumatic because I still have vivid snippets of memories from that time. My dad came to the hospital, bringing with him a stuffed raccoon. He was not too big or small, his face looked so aware and interested in what I had to say, and his tail was long and striped. I don’t know how I picked his name, but it was the perfect name for him.
The nurses made him a bracelet for his tail that said “Charlie, Kimberly’s friend.” He is still wearing it. Well, most of it. There was an unfortunate incident with a Chihuahua about 17 years ago…… and the paper inside of the plastic band was eaten.
Before I met Charlie, I was not a kid that was attached to any particular object. I didn’t carry about a blankie, I didn’t have any special toy or stuffed animal that I loved. Maybe it was because he came at a very vulnerable time for me, whatever the case Charlie became my best friend.
I’ve spent time over the years holding him, playing with him, crying into his fur, telling him how much I HATE my parents (sorry guys…), and how nobody understands me. He slept with me for many, many years. He became a fixture.
I got older, got married, had kids. I moved here and there. Charlie spent time on shelves, then in boxes, back on shelves. He wasn’t thought about for a long time, but he wasn’t truly forgotten.
It wasn’t so long ago that I brought him back into my room, to keep watch over the closet for me. I’m protecting him from the kids, there is no way they are going to hurt my Charlie. He’s gotten so much older, his seams are showing, and fur is a dull gray-no more stripes on his tail. His name bracelet from the hospital is yellow with age, and the paper is gone but I can’t bear to take it off.
I love him. I really do. He is so much more than a stuffed animal to me, because of all he has shared with me over the years. I grew up with him! I expect he will stick with me for as long as I will have him around.
I think he reminds me of my youth, and how fast it’s going too. Whose kidding….it’s gone!
Sometimes I feel guilty for keeping him in a closet, but I’m pretty sure if he survived the children attempting to play with him, that my husband would not appreciate those glassy eyes staring at him while he slept.
Seriously though, how could he resist that face?