Five years ago, my daughter attended
for the first
time. She was 3 years old. At that time, I was the Room Director, in charge of
26 kids. These kids were divided up into groups of 4-5 and placed in the charge
of their own Crew Coordinator. As the week went on, I noticed that she was
regularly playing with a specific toy. And that this toy seemed to be traveling along as we
went to the different stations. On our last day, she was in tears ...
devastated to have to say goodbye to this stuffed toy ... a stuffed mouse. Vacation Bible
Now, I don't know about you, but I didn't figure my girly girl would take to a stuffed mouse. A doll ... a bear ... a "pretty animal," yes. A mouse no. But this mouse had charmed her somehow. So, with her tears flowing, I caved and told her she could bring the mouse home for a little vacation. (We left a different less highly thought of stuffed item to take its place.) I figured the mouse would quickly be set aside. Forgotten about. We would return it after a little visit. I mean, it was a MOUSE!
Five years later, Squeaks the Mouse still resides with my daughter. In fact, in the ranking of stuffed friends, Squeaks is #2, second only to a very flat, adored pink bear that she has had since birth named Pancake, er ... Ba Ba. Squeaks is well-traveled ... she has been to the theatre, the ballet, recitals, grocery stores, malls, sleepovers, school, car rides, dance classes, concerts ... you name it, Squeaks has been there. She is slightly greyer than she was five years ago. Slightly less rounded. The whiskers are gone and the eyes have some scratches. But this mouse is loved. Unconditionally.
As my daughter snuggled on my lap the other morning, I considered this Mouse. Squeaks. I am fascinated by the way she loves it. Adores it. Treasures it. Cares for it.
There are people in my life like Squeaks. People I met who still travel with me on my continuing journey in one way or another. There are the Ones I don't see much ... maybe don't see for years at a time. There are the Ones I don't talk to regularly due to schedules or family stuff or other various reasons. And there are the Ones I talk to often and make the favorite list on my Cell Phone to discuss and experience big moments, little stuff, crazy thoughts and random life elements that I can't believe I share with them at all. The ones I tell about the amazing brownie I look forward to at the end of VBS ... the ones who burn up my cell phone battery ... the ones I hang out with to watch TV and call when I'm in the dark places ... the ones I drink wine, a Blue Moon or mai tais with and , occasionally, dance with ... the ones I perform with ... the ones who laugh and cry with me, depending on the day. Each of them unique and important.
I don't tell them all the time, but I love them, appreciate them and care about them for who they are -- whether I see them daily or periodically or not so much. Whether we have time together once a week or once a month. I have been blessed -- or cursed -- with an amazing memory. I remember encounters and times and adventures and laughter and experiences and tears shared with the people who've touched my life over the years with a crystal clarity. Heck, I probably remember words they spoke and what they wore :) Some of them, like Flavia wrote "Came into my life and quickly left." But there were others who "Stayed, leaving footprints on my heart, and I was never, ever the same."
I love them unconditionally. No matter their baggage or choices or mistakes or achievements or lack of achievements or issues or life stuff or mileage that might keep us apart ... they hold a place in my heart as special as the place Squeaks holds for my daughter. Do you have people like that around you? Do they know that you care for them? Life is kinda short, I've discovered. I find I want to take time to say the words often left unsaid. To remind the people surrounding me that they mean a lot to me.
Okay, so unlike Squeaks maybe I don't sleep with them snuggled in my arms every night, but I love them unconditionally just the same ... They are never far from my heart.
I'm just sayin'.... in case you didn't know ... it's unconditional ...