Madeline had an imaginary friend. Notice I’m using past tense. Feezy, a playmate who first stopped by our house a few weeks ago, lived a happy but short life.
It seems like only yesterday when Madeline was carrying on an elaborate conversation with someone in my bedroom as I brushed my teeth.
“Who are you talking to?” I said in a garbled tone with my mouth full of toothpaste.
“Who’s Feezy?” It didn’t surprise me that she’d befriended an imaginative companion. When she was only 2, she carried around tiny (and invisible) puppies that she’d tuck away in her pockets when we went anywhere. She also had a blue horse for awhile that used to carry her when her preggo-mommy couldn't. Still, I wanted to know more about this new companion.
“Feezy’s a lion.”
“Oh. Does he have a big, golden mane?”
“No. He’s not really a lion. Everyone ‘tinks’ he ‘ooks’ like a lion, but he’s really a person. His mommy brought him over to play.”
Throughout the week Feezy made frequent appearances. Sometimes he’d ride along with us to swim lessons. Sometimes he’d drive his own car to our house. Other times his mommy would drop him off at our house to play. Clearly, his age was a little ambiguous. But one thing was clear: Everyone thought he was a lion, but he was really a person. I tried to imagine this hairy man-boy, but I came up short. Not so for Madeline. She knew everything about her pal. “He’s nice,” she told me. “He likes to play.”
On Friday we were headed to a church program (Familia) where I’d need to put Madeline in the nursery. She rarely goes into nurseries and has never much liked the separation. She started crying when I told her she’d be playing there just for a little while.
“I want to be with Mommy. I don’t want to be all alone,” she cried.
“What about Feezy? Maybe he can come with you,” I urged.
“Feezy’s not here anymore.”
“Is he at home?”
“Where is he?”
I just let this unexpected announcement slide and figured feigning Feezy's death was just another way of resisting the whole nursery experience. So when we were having a play tea party later I started pouring tea for Feezy. “Look! Feezy’s come to join us for tea!”
“Uh-uh. He’s dead.”
Okay, so it seems Feezy really has been laid to rest. Morbid? Nah. She seems to exhibit only a hint of sadness when she talks of Feezy’s fate. (Fortunately, she has no gory details about his death - how does a lion-man die, I wonder? Did he die misunderstood when someone shot him out of fear that a lion was in their backyard? Then again, he did drive. Maybe it was just a tragic car accident that took the life of this furry friend.)
His death probably hasn't given her much of a heavy heart because she knows she can conjure up a new pal anytime she wants. Or, maybe just maybe all those talks about my papa and heaven when he died this past May have left her with some peace of mind that this end we call death really isn't an end at all.