Curious George has been lost. Many of you feel the weight of that statement. You have seen Samuel carry his precious Georgie...everywhere. You have observed that most snapshots have Samuel holding, flinging, playing with George. He has accompanied us most everywhere. He has slept with Samuel every night. He couldn't be a more loved stuffed animal.
The best we can figure out is that George is on James Island South Carolina. He was last seen at Mamu and Papa's house...then there was a big outing to the Festival of Lights. We know George didn't get out of the car there...and are not positive he was even in the car. But after carefully searching houses and cars, we can only imagine that George was in the van and as people got in and out, he must have been knocked out. And in the dark, we wouldn't have known.
I have been a bit caught off guard with my own reaction. The first night after Samuel went to bed without George. I cried and cried. Maybe I've watched Toy Story too many times. I kept picturing George laying in the dusty parking lot, wondering why we left him there. I wonder did someone come along and think, this is an old stuffed animal and toss him. Or did they look at him and recognize this is a well loved monkey. I miss him. I miss seeing Samuel with him.
Maybe I should tell you the story of George, lest you think I am a bit crazy. When Samuel was four months old, Rob, my mom and I traveled to Guatemala. We spent a wonderful week with Samuel. My mom brought him a Curious George stuffed animal and left the monkey with Samuel's foster family. We said our hard goodbyes, not knowing how long it would be before we traveled there again. Four months later, Rob, his mom, dad and I traveled back to Guatemala- this time to bring our son home.
Once we were settled in Seattle, we ventured out to a bookstore. Our friend Kathleen stopped by the store to meet Samuel. I'll never forget holding him when suddenly he reached to the shelf over my shoulder, grabbed a Curious George stuffed animal and stuffed it in his mouth! We had to buy it then. He must have recognized George...and was so excited. He hasn't let go of George since then. He has been his comfort when he was sad, the one he makes silly jokes with, his constant companion.
In the last year, Samuel had gotten where he didn't carry George around as much- and then came our move to Pennsylvania. The need for Georgie to be close by increased. George has aided Samuel in the many transitions in his short life. People have come to expect when they see Samuel, they see George. A month or so ago we made the jump to not carrying George into church with us. The first Sunday we had at least 10 people ask, or silently mouth- in case there was a tragedy, "Where's George?" Samuel's response was that he was having a monkey party in the car. And after church made lots of stories of mischief that George and his monkey friends had been doing while we were away.
Back to my tears. The sadness I felt for Samuel got me thinking, this will be the first of many times my son faces loss and disappointment. As a parent that is hard, so hard. I think I cried tears for all of those future times too, all the times I can't "make it better". Up to now, most misadventures can be comforted by a kiss and a hug. A couple of posts ago, I wrote about who I want to be in moments like this. And now I have a chance to practice it with my son. How do I model this? How can I help him navigate the loss of George? I want him to express his sadness- to acknowledge that not having his "best friend" is tough. And to keep it in perspective, for him to know he has the character, the resolve to make it through. To help him grow into one who "does not grieve as one without hope".
For today he has a few tears and is imagining lots of monkey parties on James Island. I have a lot to learn from him.