It came out of nowhere. It hit us hard and we weren’t expecting it. My husband had already had a difficult few days anyway. He had been to see his mother which always involves days, if not weeks, of us fighting before hand, a challenging time while he is there and usually more fighting afterwards. But this time we were more of a united front. I suppose because I am not angry anymore, I am just sad. I big my mother-in-law up for comic effect but the pathetic truth is that I do love her, just as I loved my father-in-law who passed away last year. I think they have been victims of their stupid value systems and have lost so much, and if I could do anything to help that I would. We chatted and laughed and perhaps cried a little and then my husband started to talk about the bedtime story he had read that evening.
We have been reading Winnie The Pooh and The House at Pooh corner to my daughter, aged five. We read a chapter each night and take it in turns. We have become immersed in this wonderful world, all the easier for us to imagine because we love my daughter’s own soft toys like family members, and moreover her most special toy has always been a soft Eeyore, now greying and floppy and distinctly odorous.
I had to read the end, he said, and it was awful. Christopher Robin had to leave, and they didn’t say where he was going or why, but they all knew about it and it was really sad. Oh God, I said, a sense of foreboding sweeping over me, he was probably going to boarding school wasn’t he? We both started to panic, why, why would they do that? Why would they have to end things like that? Pooh asked if he would come back said my husband, and first he said yes, but then he said, well when I say yes I mean no. I could hear his voice really faltering now. But in the end it says that there is an enchanted place where you can always see a little boy playing with his bear, he said, and with that he collapsed into uncontrollable sobbing, sat in the middle of our carpet, surrounded by endless toys, ribbons and birthday cards. I moved to the floor and held him and sobbed too. I don’t know how long we stayed like that, both grieving for something we didn’t quite understand. You’re so courageous, I said. You’re so brave.
It took me a couple of days to dare to read the chapter myself. I knew as soon as I did that we were right when we guessed where Christopher was going. You could tell by the tension that hung in every page, by the way that the relationships changed and everything was awkward before he went, because the magic was already being spoilt by the sadness which would pervade everything from then on. And most of all I knew because Christopher Robin knew that wherever he was going he was not going to be able to do his favourite thing in the world, to be with Pooh and do nothing. Because you can’t do nothing there, they don’t let you.
God I hate this. I know people have to grow up and I know nothing lasts forever but you don’t need to take everything away from people all in one go. But hating something is never a good motivation for doing anything, I don’t think, not really. Anything that is really worth doing has to be motivated by love. I thought about that as I sat in that crumpled heap on the carpet crying with my lovely husband, and I thought about how on our wedding day our priest had quoted Khalil Gibran and wished that we might know the pain of too much tenderness. And I thought this is what I need to hold on to, and the memory of where, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his bear will always be playing.