Sunday, July 02, 2006

Fiona Beb and the phoenix

We had a traumatic experience today. We were on our way to the Farmer’s Market, where we like to buy crepes on Sunday mornings. As we pulled out of the garage, Maya announced that she had left her doll at the park a few days ago and we needed to go look for her. Well, the park is on the way, so even though Maya is notoriously prone to false alarms like this, we stopped to look for her doll. It is a big park, with a play area in front and wooded area in back. There is a bridge you can cross, a stream where you can look for frogs, a large green lawn under the trees, surrounded by undergrowth. Next the lawn sits a picnic table on the bare dirt, where someone had had a fire recently. We passed it by without thinking, but when I looked again, I saw a plastic doll's leg, burned at the top where it would have attached to the doll’s cloth body. Then I found the other leg, and the arms, and eventually the back of the neck with a scrap of clothing melted on. When I saw the clothing, we knew for sure we had found Fiona Beb.

Fiona Beb was Maya’s first baby doll, but Ziad named her. No one knows how he came up with that name, although we really were into The Secret of Roan Innish at that time. She’s gone on trips with us, and slept with Maya when Maya needed her, and been a part of our family. It was bad enough to know that she was lost for good, but it was just so creepy that someone had burned her up. All of us were crying when we got home.

So Maya and I talked about it. Of course, middle-class, comfortable, permissive parents that we are, there was no question but that we were going to try find a replacement. And Maya told me, “When we find the new doll, then all the parts of Fiona Beb are going to come into her, and then I’ll have her back again.” Which for some reason made me think of the story of the Phoenix, popularized but not invented by J.K.Rowling in her Harry Potter books. So I told Maya about the phoenix, that lives a hundred years and bursts into flame as it dies. Then, when the flame is gone, there is an egg in the ashes, and the phoenix is born again out of its own egg. It is a symbol of eternal life and rejuvenation. So it made sense that Fiona Beb could be like that somehow, come back to us even though she was burned up.

Maya seems to be pretty OK to think that Fiona Beb is like the phoenix. But the fact is, Ziad and I are pretty seriously freaked out. That doll, to me, represents the innocence and joy of childhood, and I can’t imagine what kind of person would throw it on a fire. I keep thinking about my little girl, who is so tender-hearted and loving. I just don’t know what to make of it all.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Lesley said...

How sad. If anything- I imaginge you pictured finding the doll on a park bench, a little weathered. Or perhaps, if you hadn't found the doll, you could have hoped another child found the doll. Picked her up, hugged her, loved her. But certainly not burn her! The entire episode becomes even more tragic because I think we imagine the faces of our children on dolls like Fiona Beb.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Vivian said...

How sad! Dolls can mean so much to us, how horrible someone so heartless to burn it! I really hope Maya will find comfort in her "replacement", but I know some things of childhood can never be replaced. Loved your phoenix story, wonderful imagination, your kids will remember it forever.

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Lesley said...

The August book??

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Lesley said...

Is there life after Fiona Beb?

5:39 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I would have been a little freaked out too. Vivian's right -- the phoenix was a great image to use. Miss your posts and comments -- where are you?

12:57 PM  

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