Since Sarah’s viewing was private, unless you were family, you probably didn’t know that her favorite stuffed animal “Dorothy” the flamingo was laid to rest with her, along with her beloved Pooh bear blanket. There was no question about it… it had to be that way. She never slept or took even a nap without them surrounding her. She would often curl Dorothy’s long-but little neck around her own as she covered her eyes and smelled her blanket and drifted off to sleep. It was the smell of “sleep” we would say. From the time she saw Dorothy in the gift shop at the zoo, until her death—they really were inseparable. One time as we were packing up to come home from the hospital, we thought that we had somehow lost Dorothy. There was an instant look of panic, then tears came as she considered never seeing her again. The nurses were helping us look, checking the dirty linen carts, when suddenly I looked under the hospital bed, for about the third time… and there she was…on the floor. We both thanked Jesus as she hugged her faithful friend and regained that infectious smile and focused on getting the heck out of the hospital and going home. A flamingo really was the perfect stuffed animal for her. When she brought Dorothy home, “Elmo’s World” was her video of choice. Because Elmo’s pet goldfish, Dorothy, was a prominent character that he talked to often, she copied the idea and named her new best friend the same. Most didn’t know that Sarah had a growth condition that caused her legs to grow at different rates. Her right leg was longer then her left leg. She actually had a growth plate stapling surgery in the 6th grade to stop her right leg from growing and allow her left leg to catch up. Last year, we were watching a documentary type tv show about flamingos and learned that many of them have the same issue. They often will “tape” one leg to help them even out. We were in awe of this discovery, as we reflected on how perfect Dorothy was for Sarah.
As I think more about the joy that flamingos bring, it only just confirms that they were a match made in heaven. If there are animals in heaven, I wonder if she now has a pet flamingo? Wouldn’t that be amazing?! I’ll always be grateful for the comfort and companionship that she brought to our girl. RIP Dorothy. Gone but never forgotten. What about your person? Is there an animal or something else that you associate with them? Also, if you’ve taken a picture of your loved ones Christmas gravesite decor, please feel free to share.