When I was a little girl, I had an army of stuffed animals as companions. I would set the creatures up in a certain way around my bed letting them take turns of who slept right next to me. My favorite was a pink rabbit I got for my first Easter, named Honey Bunny but I called him “Honey Bum” because I couldn’t pronounce “bunny.” I slept with my sweet friend every night, often sucking my thumb holding on to the ribbon around his neck as I tried to fall asleep. These stuffed animals meant more to me than Barbies, clothes, the latest gadget or video games. I can remember crying when I lost one. Fortunately, I still have Honey Bum today.
When my son, Jonah, turned two, I started noticing his attachment to stuffed animals in a very similar way to mine. We got him a monkey at Build-A-Bear that he named “Monkey” (creative, I know) and he also adapted to a feather pillow that he took everywhere with him. Monkey and his pillow have been on cruises, to Disney World, short car rides and doctor visits. On occasion, they’ve been to church, hotel stays and sleepovers at the Grandparents. Jonah loves things that hold sentimental value and often can’t finish certain movies because he’s heartbroken while engrossed in an emotional plot. His sensitive heart makes me proud; I treasure how he already loves so deeply.
It’s no surprise that Jonah’s Monkey and pillow joined us on a recent trip to French Lick. He slept on his pillow and holding tight to Monkey the entire way there and immediately tossed them onto the top bunk when we arrived to our hotel room. The day we checked out became hectic. We raced the clock to make the 11am checkout time as our kids stood dripping wet waiting to return to the waterpark after my husband, Josh, loaded the car. In our haste, we made a precious mistake. We left his pillow.
Jonah never noticed on the trip home. He and his sister, Lily, were bickering and fighting over silly things, showing their arcade treasures and switching back and forth between adversaries and friends as the miles ticked closer to home. About an hour after we arrived we finally started to unpack. Jonah came up to me with tear stained eyes and asked, “Where’s my pillow?”
I assured him it was in the car and I reluctantly traversed into the dark night to search the front seat, back seat and trunk. No pillow. I didn’t want to tell him the news, but I really had no choice. Back inside, I admitted that I thought we may have left it behind. Josh looked mortified. We both knew how much Jonah treasured that beat up heap of feathered mess. Quickly I made a phone call.
Once connected with the front desk I realized how crazy I sounded.
“No, there’s no pillow case.”
“Yes, just plain white.”
“Probably like the rest of the hotel pillows.”
I’m sure the receptionist wondered why it was so important. Of course I understood. Because it was HIS pillow. She humored me as I chattered on about the extreme value to him. She claimed that she checked the room. No pillow, she told us. And no, it wasn’t in lost and found. Grasping at straws, we offered to drive up and look ourselves. Instead, she insisted to jot down our name and number in the lost and found log. Yay, I felt so hopeful with that offer. Not.
Hanging up the phone broke my heart. Call it my sensitive side, my pregnancy hormones, or good old-fashioned mommy emotions, but I entered Jonah’s room and I held him as we both silently cried. I held him tighter than he’s let me since he was a toddler. I gave him the hotel’s verdict but he simply whispered, “Please pray.”
Oh, I’d pray. And I’d call back like a crazy lady until I got a better answer. First, I called back the same evening. I wanted to know how to get ahold of the housekeeper Margaret (a name left on a tip envelope that I am very thankful for) and was told to call back this morning. Called at 5:45am to beat the rush hour of their breakfast and re-emphasize how important this fluffy piece of fabric really was to my 8-year-old son. At this point I was given the manager’s name and told to call after 9:00 when she got to work. I called at 9:01. I think by now they were expecting me because she’s the one who answered the phone. Immediately, she offered to check the room herself and talk to the housekeeper. (Call it hotel staff efficiency or maybe even avoidance of phone call lost-and-found harassment, but this time I was sensing results).
At noon, my cell phone rang. The manager’s voice pronounced triumphantly, “We have your pillow.” These were the happiest four words I’d heard all day and my smile must have given it away because Jonah was jumping up and down with excitement.
Josh didn’t hesitate or insist that we ask to have it mailed; instead he immediately offered to leave and take Jonah back to get it. Not down the street, not across town, but more than 100 miles away. His to-do list is super long and his time is precious, but in that moment nothing was more important to this dad than making sure Jonah was re-united with something he considered precious and valuable. So off they went – on more than a 200-mile round trip to retrieve this tattered and worn little miracle. And let me tell you, I doubt Jonah will ever leave it behind again.