Friends with Faded Fur: a bedtime story about stuffies
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
(This bedtime story about stuffies was the idea of our oldest daughter who was told that her Grover was looking gross and old. She didn’t care because she loves her stuffy pal.)
It was dark. It was quiet. It was warm.
Books lay scattered on the floor below the bed, a small flashlight, still turned on, brightening one phrase: “of all the trees we could’ve hit, we had to get one that hits back.”
But at 1 a.m., there was nobody awake to read that.
The same quiet that controlled the bedroom controlled almost every other room in the house too. The only sound that could be heard was the sound of the family cat nosing her way through the food in her bowl, looking for her favourite flavoured kibble.
At least that was the only sound until somewhere from underneath the blankets in the bedroom came a deep sigh.
The sheet sunk as the sound of the sigh faded. Then the sheet rustled a bit. Then it lifted as whatever it was that had sighed started to make its way out from underneath.
Slowly, a small blue hand reached out from the sheet. Then came the other hand. Slowly the two hands pulled the sheet down, making sure not to wake the small child who was trying to stay warm under the very same sheet.
In the very faint light being cast on the book by the never-turned-off flashlight, you could very faintly make out that the two blue hands belonged to Grover.
Grover, was a Stuffy Pal. He had been for seven years.
You must know about Stuffy Pals. You very well may have had a Stuffy Pal yourself. You even very weller may still have your Stuffy Pal.
Grover, in terms of Stuffy Pal years, was getting old. He had been the Stuffy Pal of his young girl from Day One. He had greeted her as she arrived home from the hospital and was prepared to sit in the corner of the crib for as long as The Girl needed him to.
His fur was very blue and very fluffy in those early days. “He’s so soft,” he would hear everyone say. “What a lucky girl you are to have such a soft, blue Stuffy Pal.”
It felt good to hear this. And so he sat, alone, listening to it for months.
One day, The Girl rolled over to him and gripped one of his small blue paws with her equally small hands. He was being called on as a Stuffy Pal and while his legs and arms were a little sore from sitting in the same corner for so long, it felt good to him to be moving.
This happened for a few months. Grover would have a blue arm grabbed, his body pulled closer, his eyes touched and his fur pulled. In these few months, his fur became a little less soft, the blue a little less bright. the black of his eyes started to fade in spots and little pieces of his side had started to come undone. As a Stuffy Pal, he loved this.
Then, about one year after he had found himself in the corner of that crib, he was out of it and being carried around. At first the trips we slow, unsteady ones, but weeks later, he was being carried upside down throughout the house.
“It looks like Grover is your best friend,” everyone would say to The Girl when they saw them together. “He sure looks well-loved,” they would add.
Grover wasn’t sure what exactly looking well-loved meant for a stuffy Pal, but it was a collection of nice words and he knew how tightly he was squeezed at night. So during those few years of being carried around everywhere, as he looked at his dirtier blue fur through eyes that had now nearly completely faded, he repeated to himself “I am well-loved and I love well too,” over and over again and he watched The Girl take slow, gentle breaths in her sleep.
The Girl grew
One warm Tuesday morning in September, The Girl left for the day like she often did. On this day though, she was wearing particularly fancy clothes. Grover thought back to the night before and remembered being held even tighter than normal. “Something must be up,” he thought to himself, and he promised himself that he’d focus extra hard that night on finding our what was happening.
In the end, he didn’t have to ask. For almost an hour, The Girl talked about the new friends she had met at School. She talked about her desk and the playground and how she was a little scared but that her teacher had said that she could bring a Stuffy Pal to school with her on pyjama days and that she couldn’t wait.
Grover was now used to hearing people who weren’t The Girl saying things like “we should run him through the wash, he’s getting awfully yucky,” and “we’re going to have to draw his eyes back on, it’s creepy without them.”
But The Girl didn’t care about these things. She loved him and still held him tight. And every night she fell asleep telling him about school, he’d tell himself “she loves me.”
And She grew
As Grover had learned. From Stuffy Pals that The Girls’ parents had owned, a day would come when The Girl started sleeping at the homes of other children. He was told that he might be needed for some of these and might not be for others.
He waited. One day, he heard the door close downstairs and listened as the familiar voices of the house loaded into the car. But before he heard the sound of the car pulling away, the door opened again. He listened as footsteps raced up the stairs. Then the door of The Girl’s room opened, the sheet on the bed was pulled back, and Grover was scooped up.
That night was like no other for Grover. It was like no other for The Girl either. The two human friends played for hours. they played a different game every ten minutes. They moved every time they played. And everywhere they went, The Girl brought Grover with her. He never played with them—more often than not he was tossed on the floor and picked up only to be tossed on another floor in another room later, but he felt loved.
That night, as the friends prepared to sleep, Grover heard “he is so ugly! His fur is practically grey and his eyeballs are falling off! His arms are dangly and he looks like a scary sea monster!”
The words he heard about how he looked did not feel good. He knew he was getting older, he knew he had given a lot over the many years he had spent with The Girl. But he also knew these were good years, years spent giving much comfort to someone he loved very much.
And he could think of the hundreds of things he had done that had turned his body this way. Things that had built him into the special Stuffy Pal that was carried around from room to room as a smart, young girl did science experiments and played floor hockey.
And he knew that that smart young girl didn’t care what he looked like. And then he heard her say:
“I don’t care what he looks like, he’s my best friend and I love him.”