This is Suzy Lamb. She joined our family on Christmas Eve, 1976 – a gift from my dad. She was no doubt an afterthought – a quick, last-minute purchase at some out-of-the-way discount toy store – by a dad whose gift-giving style involved a decidedly male combination of convenience and value.
Her price? Probably $5.
Her value? Incalculable.
Suzy Lamb was designed to store pajamas during the day in her hidden tummy pocket, but she never really served that purpose for me. She just hung out on my (unmade) bed and waited for her two favorite times of day: bedtime and first thing in the morning, when I woke up. She didn’t do much of anything in-between, except take up space and serve as an occasional pillow.
Suzy Lamb was my best friend and most trusted confidant. – my one and only ‘lovie’.
She survived a college dorm fire (1988), the occasional flood of tears (lost boyfriends, fights with friends and other childhood disappointments), overzealous household pets (there’s still a small hole in her neck) and several moves. She’s spent most of the last 20 years in closets with nothing but cedar chips for company (sorry, Suzy), but even though she’s tucked away out of sight, she’ll always hold a special place in my heart for getting me through the rough spots of childhood.
Suzy Lamb is a soft, squishy piece of home. She represents security, familiarity and peace. The most vulnerable and innocent moments of a child’s life come just after climbing under those covers and snuggling into a warm, cozy bed each night. The ‘lovie’ is there for all of those precious moments, and it becomes a touchable, tangible reminder of that feeling, because the essence of love and safety is imprinted on its fluffy little soul.
My daughter has two lovies that hold the same meaning for her – Cheetah and Mr. Fudge (guess who’s who…and yes, we know that technically Cheetah is a leopard but she named him when she was really little and I think it’s cute. Would you criticize a 3 year-old on her choice of lovie name based on a technicality? I didn’t think so).
For some, their lovie is a pacifier. For others it’s a worn little baby blanket. It doesn’t matter the physical form; that is not what defines a lovie. What matters is that the lovie imbibes feelings of delight and comfort, as only a true friend can.
Recently I tried to hand Suzy Lamb down to my oldest daughter. This was a hard decision – it pulled on my heart and brought about the most acute feeling of emptiness; but the more I thought about her loving Suzy just as I had, the better I felt about the transition. She accepted Suzy with surprise and a very astute sense of gravity given the magnitude of my offering.
A funny thing happened, though.
She didn’t sleep with her.
I tried not to notice, but several days later after noticing that Suzy was consistently taking up residence in the bean bag chair, I asked, “Is there something wrong? Does Suzy not like your bed?” She paused, gave it some thought and carefully said, “She kind of smells funny.” Smells funny? I stuck my nose in her downy white (35 year-old) fur and declared, “She smells just fine!” My daughter just waited and looked at me. In that second, I got it. I understood what she was trying to say.
I realized that by rejecting Suzy, my daughter was giving me a priceless gift, and teaching me a lesson…a simple truth that brought her (Suzy) back to me.
You see, Suzy wasn’t her lovie.
She was mine.
And my daughter was giving her back to me.
Lovies aren’t like baseball cards – they can’t be traded. If it’s a true lovie then it should be unbearable to part with, and if a new owner does take possession, it can never hold the same meaning. One lovie – one owner. That’s the rule.
Suzy is back with me now, comfortably ensconced between my ski pants and beanie hats in the closet. I don’t take her down every day, but I know she’s there.
Right where she belongs.