Stuffed Puppy’s Final Trip: Australia

Robin botie of ithaca, New York, photoshops her daughter Marika Warden's stuffed animal before taking it to Australia to be cremated in a ritual to celebrate love and life.This is Puppy. She is going to Australia. Her third trip there. This time she will not be coming back.

Stuffed Puppy. A gift to my daughter shortly after she was born, Puppy spent almost every night of Marika’s twenty years tucked in the crook of her arm. Every time Marika left home for more than a day she took Puppy. Camp, vacations, weekends with friends, hospitals, and a year of college. In 2010, with cancer in remission, Marika probably brought Puppy to Australia. Puppy traveled there with me in 2012, as I scattered Marika’s ashes.

Puppy was always key to my communications with Marika. My words came out differently when they channeled through Puppy. Puppy didn’t say, “Don’t you have homework to do?” She said, “Can I do homewawk wiv you?” Years later, I would regularly fish Puppy out of hospital beds and pose her so Marika, returning from radiation, would find Puppy on top of the bed, hunched over a tea mug with napkin and cookie, like Puppy had a secret life of her own. Like I was leaving my daughter a kiss when we were no longer on touching terms.

Ragged love-worn Puppy. With her brownish matted fur and long floppy ears, she often got mistaken for a rabbit. She looks kinda haggard now, threadbare in places. From her little alter in the middle of the house, she watches me, with a look in her shiny plastic eyes like she doesn’t quite trust me. Like, she’s wondering if I’ll make good on my promise to “return” her to her girl.

“Okay, what a dope, what the heck,” you’re saying, “It’s just a piece of stuffed polyester.” But no, Puppy is a part of myself I wasn’t able to let go of the first time I went to Australia. And now, five years later, I am going back, ready to cremate Puppy and toss her ashes into the sea. Hopefully, there will be other mothers to celebrate with me. Maybe they, too, will have read Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit to their children, sniveling with tears spilling down their faces when they got to the part where the little boy’s stuffed bunny gets tossed out to a rubbish pile. And maybe they’ll understand that I need to wrap up Puppy’s time here on earth because I can’t bear to think of my daughter’s beloved stuffed animal being heartlessly dumped into the trash after I die.


What did you hang onto for its sentimental value? What brings you comfort?

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5 thoughts on “Stuffed Puppy’s Final Trip: Australia

  1. Pingback: Australia Trip: Some Things I Didn't AnticipateANYTHING'S POSSIBLE - EVEN JOY | ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE - EVEN JOY

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Oh, Robin. You make me cry again. I’ve passed lots of Vic’s stuff to our sons but what do I do with what’s left? I always consider whether I want to pass something along (slides of old photos Vic took on his many travels, for example) even if no one cares about it and have it end up in a dumpster or do I make a big cremation fire. I think cremation is the right idea. I have to hurry to your next blog and see if you’ve taken the Australian trip or have a plan. I understand ritual journeys, but Australia is a long way. Five years after Vic’s death, we had a powerful family gathering of remembrance at my son’s home. In 2018, there will be a 10 year ritual. I don’t know where or how. Alone or all of us? If I’m still walking this earth, I know I’ll be there.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yikes, Elaine. Ten years already. Or will be this upcoming year. Where did all this time go? I imagine that considering how we have changed, how our lives have changed, we might very well see the ten years. For both of us, I can see at least ten years of growth and new experiences. I haven’t gone yet. Still concocting The Plan. I’m in contact with several other bereaved mums in Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney. Oh, the rituals I’m planning. I just hope the Australians are open to rituals.
      As for getting rid of our loved ones’ stuff – yeah, a big bonfire would be nice. Salvation Army worked for me as Marika had so much. But there’s still more. Still so many things I can’t bear to give up. Ugh. Every year a little more given away, maybe. Hugs.

  3. Stephen Hesse

    I’ve been closely following your adventures with Marika since the summer of 2010. I find this blog post to be extremely moving.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you Stephen. So great to have you here in my online home. Was it Puppy’s face that moved you to write after following my “adventures with Marika” for seven years? Yes, I’m really wrapping up Puppy’s time here. Royally though. I hope you’ll “tune in” when I write about how it goes later. Cheers!


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