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Kitty.

They told me I had to go into the hospital for a few weeks.  I wasn’t exactly sure what “diabetes” meant, but I knew it must involve vampires, because people were drawing my blood every few hours.

“You can pick any friend you’d like to bring with you to the hospital.  Any one you want.” 

My father held my hand as we walked into Ray Willis’ Toy Store and I looked at the rows and rows of cuddly and soft stuffed animals.  My seven year old shoes clicked against the tiled floor as I examined the fare.

The soft ears of a gray elephant looked so nice.  I could picture myself hiding behind them if I was scared.  I saw an amber-eyed puppy dog with a pokey little nose.  He looked like he could be my friend.

Then I saw it.My beloved Kitty.

Kitty.

A huggable, marmalade-colored stuffed animal cat with bright eyes and a long, fluffy tail.  He was sandwiched between a giraffe with the tongue sticking out and a stuffed octopus (can’t figure out why anyone would make one of those). 

I reached out with my little hands and grabbed him from the shelf.

“This one?  Is this one okay?”

My father gave me the thumbs up.  “That one looks good to me.”

Mom and Dad paid for Kitty and we started our drive up to the hospital for my overnight stay.  Originally named “Tigger” but eventually falling victim to a less imaginative moniker of “Kitty,” I kept this stuffed animal at my side for every blood test and doctor visit.  He was a loyal friend and received the occasional shot, too, when I wasn’t feeling brave enough to be the only one being injected.

I used to wag his tail and make him wiggle about, trying to convince people in the hospital elevators that he was real.

A boy on the bus in second grade tried to pull Kitty’s arm off and gave him a good rip.  I cried to my mother, who was about to sew up the wound with orange thread, that she needed to use black thread so it would look like a stitch and I would know he was better.  Ever-obliging, my mother stitched Kitty up and I admired his war wound with fascination. 

Twenty years later and no longer the newly diagnosed little girl at the toy store, I've had this Kitty with me through it all.  He used to look vibrant and fluffy, but now his fur is matted and mangy.  He lived on my bed in college.  He moved to my first apartment with me after college.  Even when I felt “too grown up” to have a stuffed animal on display in my house, Kitty has managed to weasel his way into a bookcase or a closet shelf.  Currently, he lives on top of my winter sweaters in my closet, looking at me with his matted fur and sad eyes from the mountain of wool and cotton.

He made me feel comforted.  Admittedly, he still does.

He’s a testament to how long it’s been.  And how far I’ve come. 

(But Siah doesn’t like him too much.)  

Siah is not a fan.

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Comments

Loved this one. I've had a few of those "stuffies" over the years. The only one I have left is a rabbit my 'doctor' gave me ;)
Anyway, really just wanted an excuse to say hi. So 'Hi'. :)

Kerri, I relate so much to you!

My "White Bear" (also, such a creative name) was given to me when I was 10 years old. My connection with him doesn't have anything particular to do with diabetes... but he was my buddy!

I slept snuggling him from age 10 until... well until I got married, so for 14 years. He's matted and you wouldn't exactly call him "white" anymore.

I still feel comforted and safe when I snuggle up to him.

Aren't stuffed animals the best?! :)

You tried to convice people he was real, but he already was.

(From The Velveteen Rabbit)

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Ray Willis. Man, that place still brings me utter joy. Every time I go in there now, I remember that all the stuff I could never have when I was a kid is easily attainable...and yeah, then I do it - I spend my hard-earned money on things like yo-yos and Transformers.

Do you remember the carpet store that used to be adjacent? It had a tree in front that was covered in multicolored carpeting. I loved that tree.

I have a gray, stuffed bunny puppet that I've had since childhood... I think I've had it longer than I've had diabetes though, and Bunny (an equally creative name ;-)) used to travel with me. He's been to California, Chicago and Washington D.C. I used to put my hand into the puppet pocket and make him dance.

One time, at night, I swear he moved. My mother wants me to bring him into her second grade class in a few weeks when she does her project on the Velveteen Rabbit. Because the Velveteen Rabbit is real, and so is Bunny.

(Siah looks damn pissed in that photo, btw. Seriously, keep Kitty away from her.)

How sweet! Riley has a stuffed dog named Peanuts who has been there since the beginning. He's endured many insulin shots and finger sticks himself.

I wonder if 26 years from now, he'll still have him.

Very cute(definatly, a keepsake).Never stabbed any of my stuffed animals w/syringes(I was too old) but BappleBapple the Bunny (I was 4,and into repeating everything) is still in moderately good condition(all original parts) some 21 years later. They just don't make stuffed animals like they used too.. the other stuffed animals I've had didn't make it that far.

Really sweet story :) and Siah looks grumpy lol.

Check out the website http://www.stuffonmycat.com for some other great pictures of cats like that one! It is seriously hilarious!!

"He was sandwiched between a giraffe with the tongue sticking out and a stuffed octopus (can’t figure out why anyone would make one of those)."

We have stuffed octopi at the kids bookstore/toystore where I work in SoHo. They are my favorite because they smell like vanilla. I dunno, I guess I don't think there are enough stuffed octopi in the world... ;)

I HAve a Littlefoot dinosaur from the Movie Land Before Time, I got it when I was 8 years old and I still have it and I admit I still sleep with him . LF has been through every surgery I have had and all previous hospital stays including the one week I was in ICU for a few days in October

my parents' concillation gift for diabetes was taking me to disneyland EVERY YEAR along with one friend of my choosing! never my brother or my sister, now i feel guilty for all the extra attention i stole away from them. ^-^

Dang-now you have made me cry. And then someone else felt compelled to quote the Velveteen Rabbit. Well that always makes me cry.

Oh how brave we must be sometimes, and how great it is when someone holds our hand.

Kitty should not be hidden away in your closet. She deserves to still be w/you regardless of your age. Why not put her in the room where you spend most of your time. She was the one in addition to others that provide comfort to you in your time of need.

I just love the look on Siah's face!

As for the octopus.. I bought my son one when he was a baby. He never much liked it but I loved it! It was so cute and had different textures or sounds in each tentacle.

Siah doesn't like the competition it seems.

Brendon's babysitter has Type 1 and her mom bought her a stuffed puppy from the hospital gift store when she was diagnosed.

Guess what she named it....Brendon. This was before we moved up there. I thought it was neat because who names a stuffed animal Brendon?

I really, really liked this post. Nicely written. Seems the most special stuffed animals have the most simple name. Charlie sleeps with Baby Doggy.

What a cute story Kerri. Those childhood memories seem to be some of the best memories ever.
Siah's expression is PRICELESS! LOL

I remember Kitty. Many of my "legacy" stuffed animals were tossed by my mom after a bee infestation in my bedroom required massive amounts of chemicals. I managed to rescue a few and toss them into the washing machine instead - and the 2 pound purries (black and white, white with grey stripes) still sit on a bookshelf. They even made the second round of cuts a few years ago when I did massive cleaning.... to many amusing memories attached to them.

And I agree with George, if looks could kill.....

and by to i mean too. :)

Thanks i needed to irrigate my tear ducts anyway. Im sure that wont be the last time from you and it sure wasnt the first.

I remember Kitty! As soon as I scrolled down and saw the photo, I smiled!

This is a really great blog, Kerri. You should be very proud!!!

LOL Siah was DEFINITELY not happy about the competition.

"Teddy" came with me to the hospital too when I was diagnosed when I was 2 1/2 years old. He hangs out next to my bed still. I can totally relate!

I also had a fuzzy friend to see me through good times and bad. I've had him since I was 6 and he's moved everywhere with me - for the past 26 years! His name is the very imaginative "Bear"

I got a stuffed Snoopy-bear for Christmas when I was about 1 year old, and it has stayed with me ever since. When I was a kid, Snoopy sometimes needed a trip into the washing mashine and then he would be left hanging in his ears on the washing line to dry :-) He is now 28 years old and has lost one eye, but he is still my Snoopy, lying next to me in bed every night.

I hope that Siah and Kitty don't need to go into any territorial battles, as I think the look on Siah in that picture suggests that she will simply tear Kitty apart if she gets the chance ;-)

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