Friday, January 30, 2009

The Lovebug

When I was little, one of my very first loves was my adored stuffed animal collection. It started with three- a dog, a lamb, and a bunny- each of which received a lot of love at an early age. The group changed over the years, sometimes losing animals, but more often gaining.

By the time I graduated high school, I would guess I had somewhere between 10 to 15 stuffed animals. Some sat on bookshelves, some above windows, and a select few had the privilege of residing on my bed.

There was only one stuffed animal, however, that made the transition from infant to child to teenager with me and was always greeted with the exact same amount of love and adoration.

Her name was Le Mutt, creatively because that is what her tag had said, and she wore thick, lavender yarn ribbons at the place where her head met her soft, floppy ears. She was an oatmeal color with nubby fur, yellow-brown eyes and a brown thread nose. Her size was perfect for holding tightly while I slept; yes, not only was she a privileged resident of my bed, but she was the one with whom I chose to cuddle every night.

The years were not kind to Le Mutt, but she aged with much dignity as one would expect from a lovely French lady. She developed mange as areas of her fur were rubbed bare from my loving hands. Repeatedly being hugged and carried by her neck led to a migration of stuffing, both further down into her abdomen area and out of a teeny hole that developed in the place a trach would go.

Her neck grew thin and could no longer support the weight of her head, so she then remained in a permanent slump. Le Mutt even developed cataracts in later years, as her brown eyes glazed over with a hint of a whitish-grey.

By the time she left for college with me, Le Mutt was not in the best shape of her life, yet she accepted our move with the greatest of ease. I was especially thankful for her during my first few nights in my freshman dorm, as I tried to adjust to my new and strange surroundings. When I got sick for the first time that year and felt at a loss without my parents, Le Mutt was a strong and comforting reminder of home .

Le Mutt watched me grow from an infant to a young girl and then from a young girl to a young woman. She absorbed her fair share of tears over the years as in that time she saw three major moves, friends come and go, crushes come and go, and witnessed my heartbreak a few times. Le Mutt also read with me, studied with me, and kept me company under the covers on nights when when I was scared.

Le Mutt now lives safely on a shelf in my room at my parent's home, out of reach of a pup who one day discovered her and tried to claim Le Mutt for her own. She watches over things for me, and I hope that someday another child will find love and solace in her arms.

Do you have a Le Mutt in your life? Was it an animal, a blanket, something else? Is your loved object still a part of your life, stored away somewhere for safe keeping, or now only a memory?

To see more sweet lovebugs and larger versions of these photos, head here to the blog of the always amazing husband-and-wife team, Our Labor of Love.


Jane Flanagan said...

Ted! I have him wrapped in tissue in a box in my closet. He's a little wonky from years of loving, but he still smells like home.

If I'm really melting down over something he might creep out for a little hug.

Here's a pic of him:

Joanna Goddard said...


Joanna Goddard said...

ps. i had Teddy Beddy Bear, my sister had Lambie, and my brother had Baby Munchkin (a torn piece of a woman's blue slip; he LOVED it and couldn't suck his thumb without it!!)

Rebecca said...

sweet! I had blanket that also had a dog near-death experience as well--yeesh!

Tina said...

that is such a sweet sweet story Courtney! my mum made this little blanket (no bigger than 1x1m, red with white circles that looks like snow) for me when i was born & i bought it with me to uk when i moved as it reminds me of my mum's neverending love and still have in in the cupborad today!

Courtney said...

This post gave me the warm fuzzies!

It's funny, I was just packing up to move out of my parent's house and I placed my Le Mutt [aka Wuzzy] on a shelf before I left. [He too was 'loved' by my family dogs]. I had a moment and reflected on the days he spent under my arm at night and the lack of stuffing now in his body.

My favorite fact about Wuzzy is that he wasn't even meant for me. I think I stole him from my brother when he was born and I was a 7 year old with attention issues. No one ever said anything and he became mine. The rest is history.

Thanks for sharing your story, sharing these beautiful photos, and letting me share my story!

Kimberlee said...

Courts you are so gorgeous. Beautiful images and reflections. I used to have a teddy that I loved, and when you squeezed it's stomach it squeaked. Used to sleep with it every night.Until one night I rolled over on to it, it squeaked and it scared the living day lights out of me, could never sleep with it again! xx

please sir said...

I had a bear named Teddy. My first stuffed animal - and I still have and love him! Sweet post.

Anonymous said...

Aw, love the post.

Courtney said...

I love that all of you could relate to this post. Thank you for sharing stories of your own "Le Mutts" with me!! I really have loved reading all of your comments.

Jane- Ted is precious! Thanks for the link.

Joanna- How sweet and hilarious that your brother's Baby Munchkin was a torn piece of a woman's slip.

Rebecca- Yeesh is right; those dogs!

Tina- That is so very sweet!

Courtney- Thanks for sharing your story. I think it is really sweet Wuzzy wasn't meant for you, but that no one ever said anything.

Kimberlee- oh, that made me laugh, but I am sorry that your teddy ended up scaring you so badly one night!

Designers' Brew said...

Great post! Mine was Pinkbeary--a big, huggable pink bear. He got steadily dingier until he was beige. I took him with me when I had to have a heart procedure done--I was nineteen but I was f'ing terrified (it being my heart and all). I woke up afterwards in the recovery room, and one of the nurses had put him under my arm; she'd also put heart monitors on his chest, like I had, and even a little bandage on his leg right where I did (from where they put the catheter in). I eventually took off the heart monitors but I always left the leg bandage on, as a reminder of that unknown nurse's kindness.

coco+kelley said...

what a sweet little post! i have a lamb - his name is matty (i decided he was irish, and to name him matthew, but matty for short. don't ask where i come up with these things.) he's tucked away in a box now. i took him everywhere with me until i moved to LA... then i decided it best to keep him at my parents... which makes me wonder if they've done a good job of storing him away from the mice! i will have to dig him out soon!

Courtney said...

Designer's Brew- Your story almost brought tears to my eyes- what incredible kindness from that nurse. I believe I would've left the leg bandage on Pinkbeary well.

Cassandra- I love that you gave Matty a heritage! That is too cute, and I hope that he is safely tucked away from any mice :)

Anonymous said...

I still have my Le Mutt, tag and all. Mine is laying right next to me in bed. I may be 27, but he still sleeps with me every night. I have to admit, mine has aged as well very similar to yours, but I still love him the same, if not more.

Sarah said...

I randomly came across your blog post...and had to smile, because it's very much like my own story of my "Mutt Mutt" a couple of years ago!

Anonymous said...

I never had a Le Mutt, but I had a whole bunch of Fifi la Femmes. They're so cuddly! I don't know what I'd do without my Fifi's. They've been loved so much that the eyelashes fell out, the ribbons got lost and the fur is matted down. Still adorable. :D

Thank you for your story. It made my day.

Rachel said...

I am sitting here smiling because I am searching for a Fifi for my 6 week old baby girl online so that she can perhaps love her fifi as much as I did as a child. I had multiple Fifi's as a child, my mom used to buy more and hide them to avoid a meltdown if she thought one was too ratty and needed to be tossed! My Fifi radar, however, was too strong and I somehow ended up with a whole pack of Fifi's that I was known for carrying around all together along with a bunch of random purses. I'm glad to hear that someone else loved their Fifi like I did... Mine came to college with me too! :)