Christa Bella

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Christa arrived in my life when I was three years old.  According to family lore, my grandma searched high and low for her and went to many places to find her.  On my birthday I unwrapped a shoe box and there she was— not a doll to me, but a best friend, a constant companion, a shoulder to cry on… so much more than a doll.  When I was young I took Christa wherever we went, and on more than one occasion I remember my mom turning around the car to go and fetch her on some store shelf where I had accidentally left her.  My parents also had to do a couple of late night drives to bring her to me when I forgot and was staying somewhere overnight.  No matter where I left her, Christa was always waiting for me.  I thought that all of my toys and dolls came alive when I left my bedroom in the morning, and in my mind Christa was always in charge in there because she was the most special. 

As time went on most of my other toys and dolls were put away, but never her.  I soaked her yarn pigtails with tears over fights with friends, a bad grade at school, and later, break-ups and boy problems.  No matter where I went, if it was overnight Christa came with me.  I don’t remember anyone ever making fun of me for it; I simply got her out when it was time for bed and no one ever said anything. 

We moved a lot when I was a kid and Christa came too.  I brought her on vacations and trips to Grandma’s.  When I moved out to start college, she was the last thing that I packed (in my pillow case, so I was sure that I wouldn’t forget her.)  I moved in with A*, and still she had the place of honor on the bed.  Looking back at pictures from the day my son was born, you can see a peek of Christa’s feet because she was laying in that hospital bed with me then too. 

Every single night for thirty years, I have slept on my side with my chin resting on the top of Christa’s head.  She is dirty and coming apart in some places; my grandma had to sew her arm back because that’s how I carried her.  When I wash her I put her in two pillowcases because she’s old, but she never really gets clean.  She smells of home to me, and is an instant confort as soon as I can fiddle with those yarn pigtails.

The other day I got home from work and went upstairs to change.  Christa is always just laying on the bed.  She was sprawled out, face down, and I unconciously reached down to turn her over.  Imagine my horror when I discovered that her face was ravaged, a huge hole ripped right across her nose and cheek.  The dog had decided that she looked like a tasty snack (A SNACK THAT HAS BEEN LAYING ON THAT BED FOR THE ENTIRE TIME THAT WE HAVE HAD THE DOG AND HE HAS NEVER TOUCHED) and dove right in.  There is now a jagged hole in her face.  C. won’t even go near her, he said she’s “scary” now.  I guess the electrical tape I stuck on there doesn’t help either.  I cried for about a half hour, then posted my misery on Facebook.  As I mentioned before, I stitched her up temporarily with some electrical tape.  I did NOT give the dog away.  My grandma has been talking about taking her to a doll hospital, because you see this isn’t just my doll.  Christa is my childhood wrapped up in cloth and stuffing and the entire family is feeling her (my) pain. 

I still slept with her last night, though.  Sshh, don’t tell anyone that this grown up, married mother is still sleeping with her Cabbage Patch doll. 

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