Dolly Named Rachel Beth
There once was a little girl named Rachel who was the Youngest Daughter of Certain Man and Certain Man’s Wife. On her fifth birthday, her good friend, Laura Beth, gave her a dolly that was soft and hugable. Rachel Jane gave her the name of Rachel Beth. Which was a combination of her name and the name of her friend. The dolly quickly became a lovey — sleeping with Rachel every night. Sometimes at great cost.
In the twelve years since, Rachel has literally kept track of the nights that she hasn’t slept with Rachel Beth.
That would be 24. As in 24 nights out of nearly twelve and a half years.
Soon after Rachel turned four, a Hispanic family rented our trailer. It was a father and a mother, their married daughter and her husband, and a teenage son and a seven year old daughter, Yajirah Guatalupé Ruiz Mancilla, who we came to know as Lupé. After a rocky beginning, Rachel and Lupé became close friends. Eventually, they came to regard each other as not only good friends, but sisters. In fact, they were baptized together at our little country church one Sunday morning. It was something they both looked forward to and back upon with a great deal of joy. Many, many nights, Lupé would sleep in the other bed in Rachel’s room. Rachel would sleep with Rachel Beth. Lupé had gotten a cuddly little dog that she named “Fetchie” (from the same family that had given Rachel her Rachel Beth) and she slept with him every night. I would go into their room to say prayers with them, and they would each have their precious “lovey” in bed with them.
Those of you who have been following this blog know the story of Lupé. What I haven’t said here is that I have a girlie who is grieving and grieving and grieving. She stoically refused to cry in front of Lupé because she was afraid if she started, they would never stop. She would come down late at night, sit on the floor of the laundry room while I sorted laundry, or crash into a chair and talk and sob and sob and sob. My heart ached for her and the pain. When it became evident that the time was drawing close for Lupé’s departure, there was this abiding sadness that dogged her almost all the time.
Two nights before Lupé was to leave, Rachel came downstairs with Rachel Beth. . I looked up from where I was reading in my chair, and saw Rachel sitting on the chair beside the fireplace, holding and caressing her dolly like a five year old. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears.
Rachel Beth is not very pretty. Her pigtails stick straight up in the
air. The years have done her some damage. The years have done
something different to my Rachel-girl. Her awkward adolescence has
blossomed into beautiful young woman-hood. She has a gentle and loving
spirit, and she is acquainted with grief.
“Mom,” she said, “Lupé and I have been talking.” She paused and then went on with some effort. “We decided that we are going to trade Fetchie and Rachel Beth. I am sending Rachel Beth to Guatemala with Lupé and she is leaving Fetchie with me.”
I was, quite frankly, alarmed. This was the dolly that she never, never, never wanted to part with.
I said, “Rachel, are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes, Mom,” she said simply. “It will make me feel better to know that Rachel Beth is in Guatemala with Lupé. And having Fetchie here with me will make it seem like she is not quite so far away.”
And that is what they did.
Rachel got a card and wrote her heart to Lupé and got her dolly ready for the trip. She took a sharpie and wrote on her cloth body the following notation:
A.K.A. “Spooky Doll”
March 13, 2008
Please take care of me
And she said good-bye to her beloved dolly, Rachel Beth.
And her beloved friend, Lupé.
She has slept with a cuddly little dog named “Fetchie” every night since.
This is another thing that has made me cry and cry.