Long ago DD had a bosom friend that went with her everywhere. She called him Mousie.
Here they are, hand in hand, inseparable, in a photo almost a generation old. A friend’s mother embroidered a mouse on a T-shirt for her, and DD became known as the girl with the mouse.
There was the time in the supermarket when she set Mousie down in order to help put a jar of peanut butter in the basket. Moments later, she realized she didn’t have him. It was pandemonium. Only when we found him again, resting patiently on top of another jar, was peace restored.
Then there was the time she had gone to sleep with him, as always, but must have let go in the middle of the night. Mousie was located behind her bed, and the promise of a good day was with us once again.
These separations became more frequent, but DD’s insistence that life can’t go on without Mousie did not abate. I worried that one day he would indeed leave us for greener pastures. I dreaded that day. Mousie was no longer a transitional object, as the clinical definition goes. He was a full-fledged member of the family.
One day, I found Mousie on the kitchen floor, all by his lonesome. I picked him up and almost returned him to DD, who was drawing with great concentration in the next room. Then I thought better of it, and put him away in a safe place where I can locate him if she asks for him.
She never did.
I forgot about him. Dust settled over many details of those times, and the colors faded as they do in old photos, both in albums and in my mind.
Two years ago, DD and I were looking through an old box, when out fell Mousie.
“Oh, my,” I said. “Do you remember this?”
“Do I remember?” she said. “I thought about him and wondered where he was every day, for years!”
“You never asked...” I said.
“I didn’t want to upset you,” she said. “I thought I had lost him, and I didn’t want you to feel bad.”
I don’t know what lesson to take from this. I was thinking about it the other day, when I thought how often we don’t ask and don’t tell because we want to spare others. I wanted to tell DD, who still doesn’t share things when she wants to spare me, that she should have asked.
But the other side of it was that Mousie had to grow up, and he, as well as DD, had to move on.