Meow has only one eye. Her orange fur is scruffy, sticky and sometimes stinky. The plush in her limbs and tail have been loved out. Her body has grown thinner, her head floppy. She’s my daughter’s “lovey” and because of this I love Meow more than any adult should love a stuffed animal. Meow has oddly become a part of our family and on Saturday, we almost lost her forever.
It’s become an ongoing debate—to bring Meow or not to bring Meow wherever we go. Meow is a comfort to Ramona and her best pal. Leaving her at home at times seems cruel. But to take her everywhere is to risk losing her. Most of the time, Meow is allowed to tag along as far as our destination point in the car but then has to “hold down the fort” while we are out and about. But every now and then Meow is allowed on a stroller ride, knowing that if Meow is dropped, there will be immediate shrieking. So it was on Saturday—a gorgeous 65 degree day, we decided to take a little hike around Wonderland Lake and as our spirits were lifted with the sunshine, we felt generous enough to let Meow accompany Ramona in the stroller. Meow made it around the lake, hung out in the stroller at the park and kept Ramona company while Jesse and I enjoyed adult conversations. All was well until we left the trail-head to head back home. Confused as to who was breaking down the stroller and who was buckling in the kid, poor Meow was placed on the roof of our car and left there as we drove away. Thank God we were only a couple miles away when Ramona started to panic. “Where’d Meow go, Mommy? Oh no, Mommy! Meow, NOOOOO!!!” Jesse and I looked at each other, equally as panicked and nearly stopped the car in the middle of the road to search for Meow, knowing what had probably happened. Pulled over precariously on the side of a busy street, we frantically tossed the car. Meow was most likely in the middle of the road somewhere torn to shreds. We kept Ramona calm and retraced our tracks all the way back to the trailhead. No Meow on the road. No Meow in the trail-head parking lot or under parked cars or in the trash can. I decided to retrace our tracks by foot while Jesse stayed in the car with Ramona, reassuring her that I’d be back soon with Meow.
Panicky and prayerful, I walked the sidewalk up Broadway, methodically eying the road and sidewalk area. After what seemed like forever, I was flooded with relief when I spotted something tethered to a street sign. It looked like a reusable grocery bag with something in it. It was Meow! I practically ran to the sign and untied Meow only to notice that one of her glass eyes was missing. Still, extremely overcome with a new appreciation for the little plush pet, I ran back to the car holding Meow high in the air triumphantly. Ramona squealed with joy then immediately asked, “What happened, Mommy? Meow’s eye.”
I wouldn’t say that in general I’m an overly pessimistic person. I’d like to think of myself as more of a realist. But honestly, for a while there I thought that things weren’t going to turn out well for old Meow. But as we drove home in relief and silence while Ramona cooed and kissed Meow in the back, I was overcome with gratitude for two things. First and foremost, my faith in the innate goodness of humans went up a couple of notches. Some good Samaritan (I imagine her to be a mother but it could have been anybody), ran out in traffic on Broadway to save a stuffed kitty for a kid. I’d like to believe that I would have done the same but I just don’t know. If I ever encounter a similar situation, you bet your ass that I’ll be out in the middle of the street in a heartbeat to rescue a lovey! Some kind, compassionate stranger was looking out for my daughter on Saturday and I am eternally grateful to her. It makes me want to be a better person—to think of others more instead of being preoccupied with what is convenient or comfortable for me.
Of course, I was grateful for Ramona’s reaction to Meow’s new look. I thought Ramona would respond negatively to Meow’s eye. She can be extremely particular and isn’t keen to change. But instead, Ramona just kisses Meow where her eye used to be and says “Awwww, Meow. Meow fall down.” What a great lesson this has been for her—She can love people and animals for what they are: imperfect, different, broken, missing an eye. Meow with just one eye, instead of two, is still the same old Meow. Maybe this will help Ramona empathize with the kids with glasses at school, or help her cope with having glasses herself. Or maybe she won’t do a double take at the neighbor in the wheelchair. Perhaps Ramona will be the person who adopts the three- legged dog from the animal shelter when she’s old enough to get a real pet.
Albeit the stress of believing Meow was a goner for 30 minutes, the gratitude I felt for the compassion of both the Good Samaritan and my two-year-old daughter made losing Meow the highlight of my weekend. And I love Meow with her one eye even more than I did with two. She now has a story, and for me personally (and hopefully Ramona), she will always be a token of compassion.