When my youngest daughter S was three or four, I discovered a stuffed, floppy eared dog buried deep in the bargain bin of the Wal-Mart across town. The little dog was sky blue, small enough to fit comfortably into a child's hand, and stuffed with tiny beans that shushed when you hugged it close.
I had no idea what S would think of it. At the time, she was mourning the loss of her pink Beanie Baby octopus, Inky, and despite a parade of possible replacements, no other candidate had passed muster. Yet, while considering the little dog, I couldn't help but believe it might be the one.
You see, S had a favorite cartoon character at the time. Blue, a quirky, lovable little dog from Nickelodeon's children's show, Blue's Clues. The more I considered the cuddly Wal-Mart version, the more it reminded me of Blue. I dropped it in the shopping cart, gathered up the last items on my list, and hoped.
S adopted the dog immediately, christened it Blue, and took it everywhere. Would have taken it to school if I allowed it.
Six years later, Blue is tattered and faded, and every six months or so, we darken her black eyes with a permanent marker. Despite her appearance, she holds a place of honor on S's bed, and participates in a morning ritual that I wish I could bottle up and uncork whenever I needed it.
"Blue-wee," S calls out to her sister E as they lounge in bed before school.
"Arf-arf-arf," E says in a high-pitched voice.
"Blue-wee," S calls out as she climbs down from her loft bed to rummage through drawers for a shirt and jeans.
"Arf-arf," E says.
Often, the game continues outside the bedroom. S might be brushing her teeth, E pulling on her shoes.
"Blue-wee," S says, her mouth full of toothpaste.
"Ar-arf!" E says inbetween giggles.
Back and forth they echo, like dolphins sounding out each other's position. Sisters. Best friends. S and E. E and S. Though they are nearly five years apart, they share a bond many would envy.
I cannot imagine one without the other. I pray I don't have to.
Appetite for writing: Yep, surprisingly, I have one. Keeping my journal close. Snippets of memories spill forth. One I must explore: S's need to be near E the first time she returned from the hospital (after being gone for three months). S dragged her sleeping bag into E's room and slept there for weeks, returning to her own room only long enough to get new clothes or pjs. Her need to be near E was so intense, we finally moved her into E's room for good. They've been together ever since.