When the movie ended, the boy stood, stretched and then disappeared into his bedroom. Feeling like something was missing, I followed him in and asked, “Do you have everything you need, packed?” He nodded, noting some stuff he was leaving behind. Looking at his dresser, I saw an old favorite book of his, from when he was a little boy. Reaching for the book, I asked, “You’re not taking this?” Seemingly annoyed, he replied “No,” with a disgusted tone. Not being able to stop myself, I grabbed the book, walked out of his bedroom, back to the living room and sat down. I held the book for a moment, before summoning the courage to open the book to it’s final chapter–a chapter, I’ve always had difficulty reading. Taking a deep breath, I began… to read the chapter aloud.
Christopher Robin was going away. Nobody knew why he was going; nobody knew where he was going; indeed, nobody even knew why he knew how or that Christopher Robin was going away. But somehow or other, everybody in the forest felt that it was happening at last.*
“Mom, why are you putting yourself through this?” My doll asked, as I blubbered my way through the first page. “I feel like I need this, to say a proper goodbye,” I said, wiping the tears from my cheeks, as I started again. “Dylan, go in and listen to mom…” She said to her brother who, after I exited his room, wasted no time putting headphones on to tune out the world. “Really mom? I have no desire to listen to this…” He looked at me with ambivalence. “Bay, I don’t care.” I replied then went back to reading aloud. Whether he felt forced or a pang of guilt by trying to ignore me, I’m not sure. But a short time later, he took off his headphones, came back into the living room and sat down. Then he asked me to start over; so I did. Once again, I begin to read stopping only long enough to wipe my eyes or blow my nose, even as my voice caught on some words. Much like when they were little, I tried to change my voice to match the characters while trying my best to get through each page.
Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking out at the world, with his chin in his hands, called out, “Pooh!”
“Yes?” said Pooh.
“Yes Christopher Robin?”
“I’m not going to do Nothing any more”.
“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”
Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again.
“Yes, Christopher Robin?” Said Pooh helpfully.
“Pooh, when I’m–you know–when I’m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?”
“Will you be here too?”
“Yes, Pooh, I will be, really, I promise I will be, Pooh.”
“That’s good” said Pooh.
“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”
Pooh thought for a little. “How old shall I be then?”
Pooh nodded. I promise,” He said.
Still with his eyes on the world, Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh’s paw.
“Pooh”, said Christopher Robin earnestly, “If I–If I’m not quite—” he stopped and tried again–Pooh, whatever happens you will understand, won’t you?”
I stopped and looked over at my son, who was having as much difficulty as myself, keeping the tears in check. “Bay, I want you to know, I’m fully aware of my shortcomings and probably wasn’t the best mom you could have had. I know that I pushed you hard and maybe said things that weren’t always that nice. But I want you to know, I love you and tried my best. You have a knack for getting in your own way sometimes, which required me to push you-and I know you hated that. But please don’t ever believe I acted this way out of spite or malice or just to be nasty. You’re my buddy bay, the one who saved my life. I love you beyond measure and I only want the world for you.” He looked back at me and said, “I love you mom, I know,” then stood up, walked over, leaned down and gave me a hug, before succumbing to a bout of tears himself.
Together we hugged and cried as all the emotion of the past eighteen years caught up with us. Rubbing his back as he sobbed, I said, “You’re dad and I are so proud of you, we only want you to find success. We want this to be the best year yet, okay? Be safe and know we love you.” “I know momma,” came his muffled reply. After some time we separated, both wiping our tears away, trying to recapture our breaths so I could finish reading the chapter.
Oh, nothing,” He laughed and jumped to his feet. “Come on!”
“Where?” said Pooh.
“Anywhere,” said Christopher Robin.*
“I love you bay!” “I love you, Mom” he replied. “You know what the best part of all this is bay?” He looked to me for the answer, “We’ve gotten all this emotion out now. So tomorrow, when it’s time for your dad and I to leave…there won’t be any need,” I said. He nodded in agreement, gave me another hug, before we departed for bed. Both a little exhausted from saying goodbye to his childhood…
So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.*
And warmed to saying hello to his new adventure as a young adult college student.
*Excerpts taken from Chapter 10 of The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne 1926; 1994.