He came into my life at a time when I needed him most and without a second thought I clung to him for many a night. It wasn’t like we had a relationship, the kind where you want to spend every waking moment together. It wasn’t like we would get lost in conversation, uncovering deep-seated feelings that connected us on an emotional level. We didn’t go to dinner. We didn’t catch a movie. We never went out — were never seen in public.
Truth be told, I didn’t give him much thought as I went about my day, but as night would begin to fall I felt a yearning inside me I knew only he could satisfy. As I climbed in bed, I needed him with every fiber of my being. The thing is, I don’t regret a single night with him.
For most, childhood memories of bedtime present images of favorite jammies, soft blankets, a certain bedtime story that could be told time and again before drifting off to sleep.
Bedtime was always a tough time for me as my imagination without fail would choose that specific time to kick itself into overdrive, instilling fears in me so powerful I would hide under the covers ensuring not a toe or a brown curl was unprotected from what lurked in the dark shadows of night. I would stare at the inside of my Strawberry Shortcake blanket, focus on the pattern of my warm breath…inhaling…exhaling…inhaling…exhaling. Once drenched with sweat, gasping for air and believing I would face a fate worse than what existed beyond the safety of my blanket (passing out into permanent darkness), I would peel a tiny corner of the blanket away from me, turn my head, and take in a large breath of fresh air before returning to my former state. At some point I would pass out, not from lack of oxygen or imagination but from sheer exhaustion.
It wasn’t until Louie came into my life that things changed for me.
Prior to Louie, I would choose one or two stuffed animals to join me each night, but with the innocent mind of a young girl I felt guilty each time I chose them. It was bad enough I would have to face all the night’s scariest creations; I was subjecting them to the same rather than leaving them cozied up in the basket with the rest of their friends.
Which is why when my grandmother presented me with Louie the Monkey on my 10th birthday I was relieved — no matter that I was probably well past the age when children cuddled up to a stuffed animal. He was soft and brown, and looked into my eyes with a hint of a smile on his face. He was about the size of those body pillows they sell nowadays, or maybe that’s how it seemed through a scared little girl’s eyes. With Louie, I no longer hid under the covers. Instead, I held on to him for dear life. The fears were there still, but somehow they seemed a little less daunting with Louie by my side. I breathed a little easier and found a bit of peace before drifting off to sleep each night. His presence helped me sleep better through my high school years and even some of my college years.
Some nights, after a particularly rough day, I still yearn for Louie. I miss him. Not in the physical sense, but in the sense of peace he gave me so many years ago. As grown-ups, we take so much to bed with us each night with no surefire way to let those fears, those worries, those feelings just sit on a separate plane while we relax and get the rest we so desperately need. Wouldn’t it be nice to find something that would ease our minds each night?
I still have Louie, though you’ll be relieved to know I no longer sleep with him. He is in a box in the attic which does make me a bit sad now that I think about it, but he served me well. Ironically, he was the first one I thought of when my daughter was younger and had nightmares.
He served her well, too. How was I to know at the age of 10 that my nighttime companion would one day ease my daughter’s fears as well?
— Leah Vidal
Leah Vidal, author of Red Circle Days, is a writer whose work appears weekly at www.littlemisswordy.com. Her writing covers current events, health and wellness, parenting and daily tribulations. She is most at home sharing life’s little moments — those that plant the thought-provoking seed of self discovery. Leah’s blog has been featured and syndicated on BlogHer, Freshly Pressed on WordPress and fitness and parenting sites. Leah paused a career in public relations to raise two children and has never looked back, except on the days when it would be nice to have an office to escape to or at least a desk to hide under. Her family currently lives in Puerto Rico, where she is a fitness-focused (physical, spiritual and mental health) mom of two and wife of one, who enjoys combing the beach for sea glass, avoiding the kitchen and making words come to life.