What Christopher Robin Knew  …  That I Didn’t

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"If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. I’ll always be with you.” Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh


I was a very happy child. At least, until I was three.

 

Three was my hallmark year.

 

The summer I was three, my parents took a trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It was a combined family vacation and scouting event for my dad. We did this whirlwind tour of the Southwest. The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Old Faithful, Pikes Peak, Mount Rushmore, Carlsbad Caverns, the Black Hills, Navaho villages - and no doubt more.  


It astounds me that we were able to accomplish it all six of us packed into a 1951 green Ford sedan, trekking from Indiana. 

 

My happiest childhood memory comes from that time. I can vividly remember the situation. I was wearing a yellow dress. We had been to visit Mount Rushmore. I had this little plastic souvenir keychain that held a picture of Mount Rushmore at the other end if you held it up to your eye. I remember it being yellow - like my dress.


I can't remember what those were called. But I was so amazed by it. I was dancing around and sharing it with people around me. I particularly remember the couple sitting on a round stone bench, that I joyfully shared it with. I was so happy.

 

My worst memory comes from that same trip. My parents were going to take a trip into the Grand Canyon, riding on pack mules. My sister and brother, both much older than I, were going as well.

 

So the question became, what to do with me? They conveniently had a daycare set up for kids too tiny to make the trips.  My mother was a pretty possessive sort of person, and I don't recall ever having spent time with a babysitter or being away from her before that point.

 

But here I was, at three years old, being placed on a big yellow bus that would drive me the mile to the day care. I don't remember much about the trip. I know my parents said I yelled and screamed and hollered and cried. They made me go anyway.

 

What I do remember is at one point, all of the kids were to take a nap underneath a canopy tent. There were little mats for us to sleep on.  I remember they wanted me to take off my black patent Mary Janes and lie down. I was terrified. Who were these people? Where were my mom and dad?  And why did they want my shoes. I was scared and angry.


I remember a woman lifting me up and pointing to the canyon trails, telling me that was where my mommy and daddy were.  I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t there, too.  Didn’t they want me?

 

I don't remember much after that. I do know I never went back. I kicked up such a fuss that my parents didn't send me again. I don't remember that either. I only remember that, from that point on, I was terrified of abandonment. 


I wouldn't stay in our church nursery. I'd run out of the room trying to find my parents. Once, I even made it to the church sanctuary and can remember the quiet laughs as I disrupted the church service as I cried for my mommy. 


In Kindergarten, I cried and daily tried to run home, gray-haired teacher pursuing me.


I knew that if I got home, to my mom, I’d be safe.  But, on the rare instances that I got home, I was promptly taken back. I cried my way through kindergarten at age four - all through first grade - finally coming to terms with it, to a degree, in second grade.

 

As I write this tears well up. I don't think I ever outgrew the idea I needed a person to be with to make me feel safe.  Those old familiar feelings of fear and anger surface as I’m left alone more and more often - either through the deaths of those I love, or the life choices of my caretakers to move on with their own lives.  (To those of you who live alone with chronic illness, my hat goes off to you.  You ARE brave.)


I learn my biggest need: to feel safe. And when I don't?

 

I panic.

 

This journey backward is hard, yet seems necessary. It helps me to understand my fear of being alone now. And my anger at feeling abandoned.

 

I've so neatly tucked that memory, and the fears of a never-reassured child far away. Until now.

 

As I look at the root of my fears, as silly as they might be to some, I understand.

 

At 64, I still want my mommy.

 

And I cry.

 

My mom passed on in 2013. I thought I dealt with it. I realize I haven't. Too many deaths too quickly. Brother. Husband.  Mother. Mere months apart.

 

And, my much loved, always at my side, amazing cat.

 

So now?

 

Now I must turn and run to my Abba Father. My Daddy.

 

And learn deep within my soul, that He will never leave me. My Lord will never forsake me. For the first time, feeling safe feels within my reach.  True safety.

 

In my mind's eye, I picture Him giving me back my shiny black shoes and lifting the terrified little three-year-old me up onto His lap, and telling me that it's gonna be okay. That I'm braver than I know.

 

I’ve needed that reassurance for 61 years.


So why do I share this with you today?

 

Maybe, just maybe, you need that reassurance, too.


And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20


 


 

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