When I was a just a little girl I had a best friend named “Dusie.” She knew the dark secrets of my early childhood, back then when I was just a little girl and I still lived with my birth-givers. She was there when I cried and she was there when I laughed and played. She stayed with me when I left my parents house, to live with my Grandmother.
Dusie’s real name was Susie. I can’t recall why I changed her name -maybe I couldn’t say it, or I just didn’t like her name- but for the rest of her life she was known to others as Dusie.
There was a place on our farm that Dusie hadn’t seen. She came with me everywhere I went and I always made sure that she was sitting comfortably somewhere in the shade when I played with my other friends. Dusie had some health problems, one of her eyes didn’t shut all the way and she needed some help with her left arm. These were only minor issues; they didn’t slow us down.
Adults said she was a doll, but I knew that wasn’t true. You see, I don’t like dolls. I was a tomboy and playing with dolls was just not my thing. Dusie was real, she was my friend. I cared about her in a way only children can care about a thing, that doesn’t seem real to adults.
Later on, when we got older, she retired and she spent the rest of her life sitting in my room -mostly on my bed where she was comfortable. Her death came unexpected and rather quickly when one of our farm dogs got a hold of her.
One of the gifts I love to give at a child’s birth is one of my favorite books called “The velveteen rabbit.” All of my friends know that book because I “made” them read it and now many of them read it to their children and grandchildren. I cannot say how many copies of this treasure I have owned and given away only to replace one with another to give away in time, as well.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams,
The book tells the story of a toy, sawdust-filled rabbit who wishes with all his heart to become real. The message contained in this book is poignant, heart-warming and touching, and one that you will never forget as long as you live. It is a story of beauty, wonder, and love.
Any child (and adult) who misses out on “The Velveteen Rabbit” is missing out on one of life’s greatest lessons. I highly recommend it to children…and the grown-up child in all of us.