Friday, January 30, 2009

The Lovebug

When I was little, one of my very first loves was my adored stuffed animal collection. It started with three- a dog, a lamb, and a bunny- each of which received a lot of love at an early age. The group changed over the years, sometimes losing animals, but more often gaining.

By the time I graduated high school, I would guess I had somewhere between 10 to 15 stuffed animals. Some sat on bookshelves, some above windows, and a select few had the privilege of residing on my bed.

There was only one stuffed animal, however, that made the transition from infant to child to teenager with me and was always greeted with the exact same amount of love and adoration.

Her name was Le Mutt, creatively because that is what her tag had said, and she wore thick, lavender yarn ribbons at the place where her head met her soft, floppy ears. She was an oatmeal color with nubby fur, yellow-brown eyes and a brown thread nose. Her size was perfect for holding tightly while I slept; yes, not only was she a privileged resident of my bed, but she was the one with whom I chose to cuddle every night.

The years were not kind to Le Mutt, but she aged with much dignity as one would expect from a lovely French lady. She developed mange as areas of her fur were rubbed bare from my loving hands. Repeatedly being hugged and carried by her neck led to a migration of stuffing, both further down into her abdomen area and out of a teeny hole that developed in the place a trach would go.

Her neck grew thin and could no longer support the weight of her head, so she then remained in a permanent slump. Le Mutt even developed cataracts in later years, as her brown eyes glazed over with a hint of a whitish-grey.

By the time she left for college with me, Le Mutt was not in the best shape of her life, yet she accepted our move with the greatest of ease. I was especially thankful for her during my first few nights in my freshman dorm, as I tried to adjust to my new and strange surroundings. When I got sick for the first time that year and felt at a loss without my parents, Le Mutt was a strong and comforting reminder of home .

Le Mutt watched me grow from an infant to a young girl and then from a young girl to a young woman. She absorbed her fair share of tears over the years as in that time she saw three major moves, friends come and go, crushes come and go, and witnessed my heartbreak a few times. Le Mutt also read with me, studied with me, and kept me company under the covers on nights when when I was scared.

Le Mutt now lives safely on a shelf in my room at my parent's home, out of reach of a pup who one day discovered her and tried to claim Le Mutt for her own. She watches over things for me, and I hope that someday another child will find love and solace in her arms.

Do you have a Le Mutt in your life? Was it an animal, a blanket, something else? Is your loved object still a part of your life, stored away somewhere for safe keeping, or now only a memory?

To see more sweet lovebugs and larger versions of these photos, head here to the blog of the always amazing husband-and-wife team, Our Labor of Love.

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