The rest of the week passed rather uneventfully, although I discussed a few things about Emilie with Robby.
"Robby, have you noticed that Emilie sometimes has a hard time standing up?" I asked him quietly a few days after Christmas, when Emilie was over playing with Baby Abigail.
He nodded. "I noticed it right away. I think one of her legs is shorter than the other one."
This is known to happen, of course. A faulty plastic mold, an error in the production line, and some poor doll has to suffer the consequences for the rest of their plastic lives. Rosamonde, Beast'sbelle's 2012 Disney Store Rapunzel doll, has a hip condition due to faulty manufacturing.
I wondered if this was one of the reasons why Robby connected with Emilie so quickly. Emilie was a sweetheart, but I'd noticed she was a bit clumsy because of her leg problem, and struggled with some tasks that other plastic children would have no problem with. And having arms molded in such a strange fashion gave her other difficulties as well. Robby would understand her challenges better than anyone.
"It wouldn't necessarily be easy being a parent," I said thoughtfully.
Robby's head shot in my direction. "But?" he asked, hearing my unfinished sentence.
"But I think I'd like to try," I admitted slowly, turning to face him.
His face lit up. "Darling, do you really mean it?"
I laughed, and for some reason, felt tears rolling down my face. Why must I always cry at everything? "Yes, I mean it," I told him, putting my arms around his neck.
He held me tightly. "Oh, Belle, I didn't want to push you, but I'm so glad!" He pulled back and caressed my face with his hand. "I love Emilie like she's my own daughter. I couldn't stand the thought of saying goodbye to her."
"Me too," I admitted, crying again.
He laughed and wiped my tears away. He laughed again when I wiped away his. He hadn't realized he'd been crying too.
"When should we tell her?" I asked him.
"We should probably wait until Beast'sbelle gets back," he told me.
"That makes sense," I agreed. "It's going to be so hard not saying anything, though!"
"I know," he said. "I think it's for the best, though."
We sat holding hands and holding back giddy laughter for the rest of the day. I was worried that Emilie would be able to tell what we were thinking just by looking at us! It was agonizing waiting for Beast'sbelle to get back.
Beast'sbelle returned a few days later, but with all of the unpacking, laundry, and everything else she had to do, it was nearly impossible to catch her. Robby and I both tried several times to talk to her about Emilie, but each attempt ended in failure. We were determined, though. In our minds, Emilie was our daughter already. We just wanted to make sure we could make it official.
I wasn't too worried. I was sure that this had been Beast'sbelle's scheme all along.
Meanwhile, we all decided to celebrate New Year's Eve together. Robby and Eugene had, with Beast'sbelle's help, found two new dresses for Rapunzel and I to wear. They had considered giving them to us for Christmas, but decided to keep the focus on the children this year. So Rapunzel and I got New Year's gifts instead. ;)
We hurried over to the dressing room with our new frocks and came back feeling quite elegant indeed.
Our audience seemed to approve, if the looks on our husbands' faces were any indicator. ;) I must confess, while I loved my dress overall, I'm not really comfortable in strapless dresses. I wish that mine had sleeves or something. At least it had clear plastic straps to hold the dress in place, but it still didn't feel very modest.
"You girls look great!" Eugene said. "Especially you, Babe," he directed at Rapunzel. Then he looked back at me. "No offense, Belle."
"None taken," I assured him with a wink. "I would hope you liked your wife's dress better." I turned to Robby. "How about you, Hon? What do you think?"
He gave me a warm smile. "I think you look amazing."
I blushed and decided to change the subject. I didn't like being the center of attention. "I love how nicely Rapunzel's necklace complements her dress."
Robby knew my games but nodded as if he were truly interested in the subject of my friend's jewelry.
"I just wish the Disney Store had made this dress a wee bit looser," Rapunzel whispered in my ear. "I can't breathe!"
"You look great, though," I teased her quietly.
"Don't tell Eugene," she whispered again urgently. "I don't want to hurt his feelings."
I smiled at my sensitive friend. Apparently I wasn't the only one who had a hard time being completely open with my husband. "I won't say anything," I assured her. "But if you're really that uncomfortable, I think he'd want to know."
Rapunzel didn't look convinced. Then she looked at me coyly. "I'll tell my husband my dress is too tight if you tell your husband you're not comfortable in strapless dresses."
Before the guys could ask what we were whispering about, I stepped away from Rapunzel and approached Robby and Emilie. The latter jumped up from her spot and leaned up against me.
"You look really pretty!" she told me shyly.
My heart melted. Robby and I exchanged a look that said the same thing: I wish we could tell her now!
I bent down and picked Emilie up. "Thank you, Sweetie," I told her. "I'm glad you like my dress."
"You know what I like best about it?" she asked me.
"Now we match!" she said excitedly.
I laughed. I hadn't thought about it, but she was right. Maybe we should ask Beast'sbelle to take a family photo sometime. Emilie and I could wear our white dresses, I thought.
Rapunzel looked on with a look of adoration. After the girls had gone to sleep last night, Robby and I had told Eugene and Rapunzel our plan to adopt Emilie. They were thrilled for us.
We didn't do much for New Year's Eve. We just sat and talked, visiting with each other. Emilie played with her fuzzy rabbit, which she had named Posy (she hadn't put it down since Christmas!), the babies cooed and laughed, and the couples cuddled up together. I hoped with all my heart that we'd have a chance to talk to Beast'sbelle tomorrow. A new year, a new family...it seemed perfect.
The next morning, we all woke up when Beast'sbelle turned the bright overhead light on. It was so sudden that it took us a while to get our bearings. Then, Beast'sbelle uttered the words that shattered our dreamland.
"Hi guys! Hope you had a great New Year's. Just wanted to let you know that it'll be time for Emilie to go in a few hours."
I was in utter shock. What? This couldn't be happening! Emilie was actually leaving? Really?
Robby cleared his throat. "I...don't understand," he said in a voice that didn't sound like his own.
Beast'sbelle paused, most likely seeing from our faces that we were shaken by her words. "I'm here to get Emilie. Remember, I said she was just here for the holidays? I have a Barbie family for her, but they couldn't take her until after New Year's Eve."
Emilie clung to her stuffed rabbit and pressed herself against Robby.
I felt like I was in a thick fog. It was our worst nightmare coming true. Could it be that Beast'sbelle really had just needed a place for Emilie for the holidays? But why on earth would she do this to all of us?
"Couldn't..." I began, trying to find my voice. "Couldn't Emilie stay for a while longer? We don't mind." And in the meantime, we'll figure out a way to make this work, I thought to myself. We couldn't give her up, we just couldn't!
Beast'sbelle looked genuinely apologetic. "I'm sorry, Belle, but Emilie's new family is eager to meet her. This was the day we agreed on."
"Why didn't you tell us any of this?" I asked numbly.
"I...I guess I didn't think about it," Beast'sbelle said stupidly. "I'm sorry, I should have explained things better. I was just in the middle of so much with Christmas and all..."
...that you decided to toy with our emotions like your little playthings! I finished for her venomously. I had never been more angry and upset in my whole life. How could she do this to us?! How could she not have thought through the ramifications of this scenario?
I was suddenly aware of how quiet things were from the other side of the curio, where Rapunzel and Eugene sat with their daughters. This was one of those times when it was very uncomfortable sharing a living space with one's friends.
Beast'sbelle stood there awkwardly, observing Emilie's sorrowful cowering, Robby's clenched jaw, and my stony silence. The realization of the chaos she'd created seemed to sink in. "I'm...really, really sorry about all of this, guys. It seemed like a great solution at the time...maybe I misjudged the situation."
Ya think? I wanted to shout at her, but I bit my lip to keep from saying it. I wouldn't be a good example for Emilie if I started yelling at our human.
Robby didn't say anything either, but his face looked more fierce than I'd ever seen it before. It was actually a little scary.
"I'm sorry," Beast'sbelle said again helplessly. "I'll be back in a bit to get her." She left the room, no doubt knowing that she was not the most welcome guest at the moment.
Those few hours were the most horrible of my life, aside from the time when I thought Robby might not make it last year. What good were a few hours when we would soon be saying goodbye to the little one who had made the last couple of weeks so precious? And it's not as if we could enjoy the time together. The slap of reality from Beast'sbelle had ruined all that. Eugene and Rapunzel wisely kept their distance, but we knew that they would be there at a moment's notice if we needed them.
All too soon, Beast'sbelle returned, and the horrible goodbyes began. Robby blinked back tears as Emilie hugged him.
"I love you, Robby," she whispered brokenly, repeating the words that had brought him such joy on our snow day.
His tears ran down his cheeks as he pulled her close. "I love you too, Emilie. It was wonderful getting to know you."
Then it was my turn. There she stood, clinging to the fuzzy rabbit we'd given her and looking at me like a lost puppy. How could I possibly say goodbye? How would I ever recover from losing her?
She leaned in and gave me a tight squeeze. "I love you, Belle," she said shyly.
And then, of course, my own eyes were wet. "I love you too, Emilie," I told her, stroking her back. "Thank you for spending Christmas and New Year's with us."
She stepped to the edge of the curio and looked back at us one last time. I blinked and smiled bravely. Robby gave a weak little wave. And then she was gone.
Once Beast'sbelle took her, I turned around, wrapped my arms around Robby's neck, and sobbed harder than I ever had before. I felt like a part of me had been ripped away. And I never wanted to speak to Beast'sbelle again.
It's been a very difficult 4 days since Emilie left. Robby and I have tried to pick up the pieces and move on as best as we can. We know that the family she was placed with is somewhere in the house. It's almost worse knowing that someday we might run across her with her new family.
Beast'sbelle has tried to come in to talk to us, but I've refused to see her. Robby has been civil, but even my sweet, forgiving husband has had a hard time with the way Beast'sbelle handled everything.
Part of me holds out hope that something will fall through with Emilie's new family, or that perhaps Robby and I could find them and talk to them and convince them that Emilie belongs with us. But I know that it's all a foolish dream. She's gone, she was never ours to begin with. We shouldn't have gotten so attached. But what do we do now?
I'm so sorry to leave this on such a sad note, when normally I try to be upbeat and happy. I'm just still reeling from the shock and hurt of it all. I miss my little girl. I think I'll always think of her as our daughter, even though we only knew her for a little while. And I'm not really sure how to cope with this loss.
I'll try to update you on the situation if I hear anything, but I might take a bit of a break from blogging for a while. Robby and I need some time to heal, and I don't want this blog to become ranty or weepy with every post.
Until next time, dear readers.