I am turning 37 this month, and I still sleep with the stuffed animal I got from Santa when I was in high school. (Yes, Santa still gave me gifts as a teenager!
Now don't get me wrong, I have many excellent credentials in the adulting department, such as:
-I have a solid marriage and am the mother of a 5-year old.
-I have just stepped away from a solid career of 15 years in upper-middle management bringing home a good salary. But for those 15 years, I was a very solid career woman.
-I own my home (well, with the help of a mortgage).
-I cook pretty decent well-balanced meals, and my house is well kept (just ignore the clutter)
-I have a Masters degree in Art Therapy
Why do I snuggle with a ratty stuffed tiger every night?
So why do I snuggle with a ratty stuffed tiger every night? Why do I refuse to pass down this weathered stuffed ball of fluff to my little boy, despite my husband's urging?
Roshambeau (named after watching a South Park episode rather than the French general- I was in high school when I got him, after all!) is so much more than a stuffed animal. He's a memorial to those in my life I have loved and lost.
He is a memorial to those in my life I have loved and lost.
I began the tradition of sewing mementos of my loved ones into my beloved stuffed animal when my maternal grandmother (Seanamhair) passed away. I wish I had started so much sooner, so I could have mementos of my great-grandmother (Nana) and my grandfather (Sean Joe) in there, too.
I had recently moved into our family home, previously owned by Seanamhair, and where I had regularly visited her. Shortly after moving in, I was cleaning out all the lovely black crud that lived in the bathroom sink drain. Woven into the sludge were a number of glistening white hairs, and I began crying again. Here was all that I had left of my intense, strong-willed, hilarious grandmother. Nothing but a few hairs coated in vile black goop. Pathetic as they were, I could not just throw them away.
I washed them, taking care not to let them slip back down the drain. I put them in a special envelope with her name on them, and I entombed them in one of the most sacred locations I could think of- the belly of my trusted stuffed companion.
Since then, I've added other of my lost loved ones:
-a few hairs from my great Aunt Barbara,
-a tuft of fur from my childhood cat, Robbie,
-a love letter from my former best friend who confessed his feelings and then moved out of state when I couldn't return them,
-and now, a lock of hair from my mom
For some reason, its taken me over a year to sew mom into "Rosh", but today I finally did the ritual. I took the little bits of hair I had saved- the single hairs I had taken from her pillow in the hospital, the lock of hair I had cut from her head after she passed. I took a photo of her and my two other great grandmothers, and put them all in an envelope. Roshambeau got his run through the washing machine (a rare event, given the paper contents inside of him), and I carefully re-added the mementos, stitched him up, and in hugging him, hugged my mom, and all the others.
I'm not alone in this desire to memorialize a lost loved one
I'm not alone in this desire to memorialize a lost loved one in a style more personal than a grey granite slab of stone. Here are some other ways people are getting creative in memorial creation:
Spirit Pieces will craft you beautiful glass jewelry, paperweights or sculptures with glass infused with your loved one's ashes.
Heavenly Stars Fireworks will shoot your loved ones ashes up into an amazing fireworks display
Eternal Reefs lets your loved one live on as a thriving coral reef- a new take on burial at sea!
The Living Urn lets your loved one's ashes be rebirthed as a tree of your choice.
And local CT artist Thomas Martone will even create a gorgeous painting utilizing your loved ones ashes and/or other healing minerals.
Personally, I think I'd like to be a tree. And as for handing down my stuffed tiger to my son, Devon can have Roshambeau...over my dead body! :)
Learn to deal with grief and other life challenges through creative arts in my free online Art and Soul Care Circle therapeutic course