Minno quickly became a permanent fixture in our lives, traveling with us to and from that hectic early-evening childcare hand-off my husband and I had, snuggling with our daughter at bedtime, even occupying the high chair with her. I quickly realized that all hell would probably break loose when (not if) the bunny got lost, and decided to get a couple of identical backups. Which is when I discovered that the bunny had been discontinued a couple of years earlier.
So I scoured the internet for back-up bunnies, stalked eBay for extras, and finally managed to horde, in a box at the top of my closet, four Minno clones. I pulled one out the day Minno required an extra-long stint in the washing machine; instead of happily accepting the substitute without question, my girl looked at it, sniffed at it, dubbed it New Minno and waited patiently for Old Minno to reappear. Which it did.
She could tell them apart at glance, even when they both became so worn and ratty that no one else could even tell they were bunnies. My husband marked one with an “O” on its tag and then mixed them up, just to see if she could identify it as Old Minno, and she did, every time.
But then, as predicted, the day came when Old Minno got lost. The kids were all out on the deck, I darted back inside for no more than two minutes, and when I came back out, Minno was missing. My girl, not yet 2 years old at the time, picked up New Minno and assumed Old Minno would turn up at some point.
Over the years, we went through all four of those back-up bunnies in my closet. New Minno became Old Minno and then mysteriously disappeared from the family room; the next one got left on a plane (and I still kick myself about it, because really, why didn’t I check before we disembarked?). She carted the last two replacements—a.k.a. Fluff and Fluffy Minno—with her to preschool until she herself decided they were too precious to transport.
And then, just a couple of weeks ago, my husband was digging in the garden when he found this:
(Yes, he shrieked a little bit.)
It has a little “O” on its tag. It has been missing for longer than my youngest son has been alive. It was filthy and almost unrecognizable. It looked like some dead thing. Weeds had grown around it and over it and even through it.
And it cleaned up beautifully.
(It’s the one in the middle.)
What’s my point? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the way my daughter always believed that her original Old Minno was never really lost; maybe it’s the fact that she knew the difference between a substitute and the real thing. Maybe it’s how the things we need in life seem to return to us in one way or another, sooner or later, and we just have to be on the lookout for their altered forms.
Or maybe it’s the fact that, when something you love—your career, your dream, your brilliant idea—ends up lost and muddy and riddled with holes, when you find it again it may still clean up beautifully.
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