The way the story goes, my dad bought her for me in a chic toy store in Pittsburgh's storied Station Square when I was a newborn baby. No one can remember what it was exactly about that stuffed dog that struck my fancy. She was fluffy and yellow, with big eyes, black eyelashes, and pink bows tied around her floppy ears. Rather ordinary as stuffed animals go, but I loved her on sight.
I called her Fifi.
She slept with me in my crib and later in my bed. She went with me to the doctor's office when I had to get a shot, and when I begged really hard, she got to come in the car for more mundane errands too. When my sister and I moved up to new bedrooms on the third floor after my parents remodeled our house, Fifi chased away the scary shadows on the first, unfamiliar night.
She read books with me and watched TV with me. She came on our family vacation to Israel when I was twelve and she dried my tears when the very first boy I liked decided he didn't like me the same. When we moved to Florida she made that strange city feel a little more like home, and I was never homesick at sleep-away camp because she was there with me.
She came with me to college and moved with me from one New York apartment to the next, and I'm pretty sure David met her before he met any of my people of the flesh and blood variety.
I was perusing Facebook a couple weeks ago and saw that a friend of mine had posted a link to a book written about the childhood "security blankets" we all loved. I clicked on it and when the Amazon page loaded, a little thrill went straight through me. Because there, on the cover of the book, was my beloved Fifi, in all her faded, worn out glory.
I sent the link to my parents and my dad promptly bought the book for me. Then we spent a few minutes reminiscing on my best childhood pal, my parents both wondering what became of her.
When I hung up the phone I headed straight for my bedroom closet. There, on the bottom shelf, propped up by a pile of sweaters, sat Fifi, her big eyes looking up at me as if she had been waiting for this visit. I picked her up and held her close, soaking up the familiarity of her bedraggled body. Her fur is gray now, her eyelashes gone, and her pink bows lost long ago. But it hardly matters.
Her home is in my closet now, but occasionally, if I am home alone or feeling a little shaky from what life can sometimes bring, she sleeps next to me in my bed, standing guard, still ready to slay the dragons.