Perfectly-preserved, Lorli, a stuffed animal from my childhood, may not look well-loved, but, as a kid, she was a sort of guardian angel, and I won’t part with her.
At five years old, I began spending my summers with my aunt, uncle and cousins at their horse farm in Vermont. Surrounded by lush green fields and trails, we’d go to spot deer at dusk in the paddock beside the road to the main house. They’d graze with the horses in harmony; my nose would leave a moist impression on the truck window as I delighted in having a front row seat to these magic moments.
At twelve years old, I would draw on these memories when I was sick in hospital. During this time, my aunt came to visit me from Vermont and brought me a present. With an IV on each hand, I carefully opened the pink rainbow covered paper. It was easy; there was no ribbon.
A serene fawn gazed at me from a curled up seated position. It was love at first sight; she wasn’t soft and cuddly, but steady and strong – we placed her at the foot of my hospital bed where I could see her keeping watch over me.
I asked a nurse to use her surgical scissors to remove my fawn’s name tag, but I kept her name, Lorli. Lindsay and Lorli; two L names. I liked that. Lorli seemed real. Her tan colour and white markings were in keeping with deer I had seen at Disney and in Vermont. She wasn’t life size, but not that much smaller than a baby deer. During their daily rounds, my surgeon, nurses and the residents remarked on her. Some would even pat her head. Another top surgeon made special trips to my bed to say hello to me and Lorli. We had a fan club.
An inanimate object, she helped bring smiles to my bedside and made me feel human during a difficult time. It’s not easy to bring out the playful side of surgeons; it’s something I’ll never forget.
Recently, I took her out of my closet to sit on our couch. Today a visiting workman pointed and asked me, “Who’s the fawn?” Like it was completely normal, I responded, “Her name is Lorli.”
A strange exchange for two grown-ups. Over forty years later, it’s good to know that Lorli hasn’t lost her touch, and that magic isn’t just for kids.