The mound of luggage and laundry left at the door by my college freshman returning home for the upcoming holidays almost tripped me. As I stumbled to avoid a fall, something caught my eye. Right on top of one of the overflowing laundry baskets, was a very tattered, very loved stuffed animal named Simba.
Simba, the young cub from the Lion King movie, was a gift my daughter received when she was four years old. From that day on, Simba would be a part of her life. Through strep throat, chicken pox, various stomach aliments and even a tonsillectomy, clutching this cub was the best medicine for her. When she finally overcame her fear of spending the night away from home, it was only if Simba could go with her. So, it was not at all a surprise when I noticed the stuffed animal stuffed into the personal belongings she was taking with her to Miami University.
And, now, standing by the door, I picked up this precious piece of my daughter’s childhood and I could not stop smiling.
I smiled thinking of the messy young woman who left the pile by the door. Still so familiar in so many ways. She has the same way of talking like the rapid ratta-tat-tat of a machine gun; and the same way of laughing a laugh that leaves energy in the room long after she walks out. All that has not changed. But still, there is something different about this child who walked out the door four short months ago only to walk back through the door a young woman with a bit more of the world in her baggage.
Yes, I know it’s called growing up, but to me it is more like growing into the person I knew she always was. Looking into your child’s face and seeing both the small child who clutches a stuffed animal for security, and the young adult who has been living away from you for awhile, is mystifying. And yet, somehow, so right.
I understand she will go out that door more and more, and one day more time will pass before she walks through it again.
And so I find myself clutching Simba, taking comfort in the fact that, like the raggedy stuffed animal, I know there is a part of me she always takes with her when she walks out that door, and whenever she returns.
Dirty laundry and all.