We were in Old Navy picking up a few things for a clothing drive and a new shirt for my son. My daughter, who typically stays at my side, had wandered to a side wall to look at something on display. Finished with what I was doing, I moved to where she was and was presented with a small monkey. When you squeezed its belly, it made an “ooh ooh ah ah” monkey sound. It was immediately apparent that, somewhat like the two dogs we rescued, there was no way this monkey would stay here, in need-a-home purgatory. This monkey was hers, it was coming home with us and that was all there was to it.
That was more than six years ago.
Fast forward to this fall. By this point, my daughter had slept with, played with, dressed up, traveled with, cried on, peed on, barfed on (sorry…got a little too real there) Bada Bada for all that time. By then, Bada Bada no longer spoke because of a trip through the washer, but he was no less my daughter’s favorite lovey. During a particularly sweet conversation, she asked if I knew how her monkey got it’s name.
I called him Bada Bada because when I found him, I couldn’t make his noise. I couldn’t say “ooh ooh ah ah” and it came out “bada bada.”
One for the books. But then it happened. Every parent’s dread. We hopped in the Subaru to drive to Florida for Thanksgiving, Bada Bada in the backseat with my kids. Somehow when we got there, I had two kids but no monkey. Rest stops were called (and revisited on the drive home) but to no avail. To say there were sleepless nights and recurring bouts of spontaneous crying is to gloss over the depth of my daughter’s sadness. She grieved the loss of this monkey.
So, like any dedicated parent heartbroken by their child’s loss, I spent late night hours one evening scouring the globe for a new Bada Bada. Now, a small stuffed monkey made in 2005 and sold at Old Navy for a short season is not a widely found commodity. But God love eBay. I found one living (in plastic, unloved) in a home in Ontario, Canada. It cost as much to ship it as it did to buy it, but buy it I did. It arrived shortly before my daughter’s birthday this month. I surprised her with it, along with the very relevant and beautifully written story The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
This Bada Bada wasn’t quite what we hoped. He’s a bit smaller and still has his voice. He doesn’t smell like six years of love. Initially, he made her cry…because he wasn’t the original. He wasn’t her Bada Bada.
She named him B.J. (Bada Junior) and decided to try to love him anyway. That was two weeks ago. He’s sleeping on the pillow next to her now as I write. The grieving has stopped.
Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that the things we love so much are important because of the love – not because of what they are. I hope that this holiday season, you find comfort and joy in the love that comes from you and that surrounds you.
On another note… marathon training is an awesome process of self-discovery. If you’re thinking about doing something brave in 2013, let me recommend it.
Caveat. It is incredibly time consuming and you will likely be hungry and a bit sore almost all of the time. But there are so few opportunities in our lives to push ourselves to new limits, and this is one of those things. I have become stronger and more focused than ever, thanks to this process. It sucks up time that I might spend doing things like writing this blog (ahem) but it’s been a very worthy process. If the actual race is as fulfilling as the training, it will be the highlight of 2013.