Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Coffee Ground to Coffee Ground

A couple of weeks ago, I said goodbye to one of my oldest friends, Night Night. He is a bear and he came to live with me when I was two years old (probably when my younger sister, Melissa, was born... as some sort of comfort gift). Night Night spent almost twenty three years with me, but I let him go. His actual, official, name (I found out a couple of years ago when I actually looked at the faded letters on his chest) is Nitey Night, but I always knew him as Night Night. I'm sure he was just beautiful when I first wrapped my arms around him. He was a cream colored bear, wearing a pink pajama suit and a pink night cap with a yellow star on the end. He had sweet drooping, sleepy blue eyes, a pink button nose and a round hole for a mouth. His mouth was very entertaining because I could actually stick things (and my fingers) in there. I don't have evidence (in my recent attempts to stick a finger back into his cottony interior) that I ever put anything gross in his mouth. I'm sure I gave him "medicine" a lot through that hole.

As a child, I always made my dolls and animals suffer from ailments. They all needed my love and care. Feeling sorry for them made me feel good because feeling needed felt good. Oh, but that leads me down the road of my childhood and adult issues of needing to feel needed and special, and I just want to write a little something in honor of my bear. The point is that Night Night used to be beautiful but has worn over the years, just as we all do. The times I peed and spilled tomato sauce on him may have had something to do with it. The overlapping stitches on his back are tell-tale signs of a well-earned retirement.

Many of us have those items from our childhood that we just cannot or will let to of...I understand. If Night Night wasn't so shabby and musty, I would love to have let Darah enjoy him for some time. But she will have her own new, special animals and friends to love and enjoy. If I actually had some use for him, I would have kept him. But I am not alone or lonely, and I don't need him for comfort. He spent the last few years buried away in closets and chests anyway. He was not bringing anyone joy. It's hard not to give life to what is actually a non-living object. I still have that childhood urge to attribute emotions to him, even if I do so in jest.

So I decided to let go of Night Night. I could not donate him because he was too musty and old, so I had to throw him away. That's what we do, in the end, isn't it. Even if we put fancy stones over our bodies or pile on bunches of flowers, we are - essentially - thrown away in the end, when there is no longer a use for our bodies. Luckily, our bodies have the ability of decaying and becoming part of the new earth that grows. We can be mulch and we can be food, but mostly we pollute the air when we are cremated or take up space with wooden boxes and stone shelves. Even as ridiculous as it is to want to be preserved, we often do (I know I do). I suppose my desire to keep Night Night "alive" and "preserve" him has something to do with my desire to feed the illusion of being able to stay alive and being able to be preserved or immortalized in some way.

But I put Night Night in the trash because I didn't have a better idea of what to do with him. I hugged him and took a photo with him and let Darah hug him. We all said goodbye, and then I placed him in the garbage can in our kitchen. For the next twenty-four hours, I flinched every time I went to throw something away over his body. It was hard to think of him being in there every time I passed the garbage can. I wanted to avoid it and have it be "out of sight, out of mind" for good, but I also wanted to fill the garbage bag before taking it outside. The coffee grinds were the worst. Sandy made some coffee and had to throw the wet grinds away. She asked me if I was sure about Night Night and didn't want to save him. I said I was sure.

So his body was covered with wet coffee grinds that looked like soil. Very appropriate. I probably should have been the one to dump them over him, but I let her do it. Then, at the end of the night, I asked her to take out the trash and put me out of my misery. She did so, with compassion and love. I don't have many detailed memories of my times with Night Night, but I do have a strong emotional memory of the comfort he brought me when I was scared or sad or lonely. I can picture myself holding him in my arms in the bunk bed of my aunt's trailer at Sherkston Shores in Canada. A little piece of home. A little piece of stability. A little bear, Night Night. I'll miss him every now and then.

(On another note, Darah saw a picture in her favorite "Big Book" this morning of a man with a broom. She exclaimed, "clean up." And later, while on Skype with Grampy Bill ("Dimpy"), she sniffed in dramatically and said "ew, stinky foot." That was just after I removed her socks, upon her request!)

6 comments:

erica clark photography said...

Wow, my little piece of cloth is also called "Night Night". However, I still use mine...

Travis said...

Mine is a pink ragdoll called Sylvia who now sits on my son's dresser. My Dad bought her for me in Spain about 27 years ago! When I was little my brothers would get me to do their chores by threatening to "hurt" Sylvia. She has travelled to many, many places. Later her head fell off and the her hand. We mended her but her stuffing continued to ooze out and I would wake up choking on it. So we retired her to the shelf above my bed. Mrs. Rabbit was her stand in. She's 15 years old. She sits on my night stand. She's missing an eye, an ear and her stuffing is one big matted mess in her belly. I don't imagine I have whatever it takes to put them away for good. I'll probably just hang onto them till they disintergrate. I guess I'm hanging on to times gone by.

Travis said...

Oh, this is Maria Teixeira! Not really Travis!

Mason McFadden said...

Erica, I understand. There was one night I was sad and brought my stuffed lamb into bed with Sandy and me. :) And Maria, dear, I'm glad you have Sylvia and Mrs. Rabbit displayed proudly! That's the way to do it...let them see the light rather than hiding them away in the dark but never letting them go.

Anonymous said...

That was a remarkable piece, my Love. It touched me at many levels, and I have tears in my eyes. Sadness for your sadness, happiness for your thoughtfulness, and pride for your ability to write so simply yet with such depth.

Mason McFadden said...

Oh, I love you Anonymous. Comment on my page again someday.