My goodness, what a week it's been! I'm so far behind and have so much to tell all of you, I hardly know where to begin!
I suppose I should start with Isabella. By Thursday of last week, someone bid on her (a very nice human named Leasly who left me the sweetest comment on the blog), so from that moment I knew that my friend would be moving on, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
On Friday night, Beast'sbelle had us say our goodbyes. Saturday would be spent getting Isabella comfortably settled in her box and getting her ready for shipment.
Robby and Eugene kindly agreed to watch the kids so that Rapunzel and I could have some time alone with our friend. It would be easier to say all we needed to say if it was just the three of us.
As we waited for Isabella's arrival, I fretted a bit over my hair. I'd done it in a fancy braid, but hadn't noticed until it was too late that it exposed my row of missing hair plugs over my left ear. I know it was a frivolous concern at such a time, but I didn't want Isabella's last memory of me to include my shoddy hair.
Rapunzel kindly told me not to worry. "I'm sure Isabella won't even notice," she told me.
I wasn't completely convinced, but I tried to think about something else. This meeting wasn't all about me anyway.
About that time it came to my attention that Rapunzel seemed troubled about something. When I asked her about it, she sighed.
"Sorry," she began. "I've had this nagging neck ache for a few days and it's really starting to affect me. It's probably this new hairstyle Beast'sbelle had me try...I think it's too heavy for my head."
"You could just take it out," I suggested.
Rapunzel blushed. "I don't want to hurt Beast'sbelle's feelings," she explained. "I'll talk to her about it when I get a chance."
She paused a moment, fiddling with the ends of her hair. "There's more," she finally admitted.
Rapunzel gave another sigh and thrust out her left hand. "I've lost my wedding bracelet!" she burst out miserably.
I was stunned. Rapunzel was always so careful! But sure enough, her left wrist was strangely bare.
"I'm sorry, Rapunzel," I told her sympathetically. I could imagine how awful I would feel if I was in her shoes. "I'm sure it will turn up, though," I added. "You haven't left this room for months!"
"That's what I keep telling myself," she answered. "I just feel so terrible! Eugene's been very sweet about it, but that almost makes it worse."
I opened my mouth to try to comfort her further, but just at that moment, Isabella arrived. Rapunzel gave me a look that said, Don't say anything.
I was puzzled by this at first, but then I guessed Rapunzel's reasoning. Our passionate friend would no doubt begin an extensive search party for Rapunzel's lost treasure, which was the last thing she needed to do before her big trip. I gave Rapunzel a quick little nod to show that I understood, and my best friend's features instantly relaxed.
We both rushed over to our friend. She gave us a brave little smile as we took her hands. Words seemed to fail all of us at first. How did one say such a final goodbye? In the doll world, goodbyes are so much more extensive than in the human world. Usually, when a fellow doll leaves our house for another one, we never see them again.
"Are you all set to go?" I finally asked, determined to break the uneasy silence between us.
Isabella nodded. "I have my vanity and all of my accessories, and I just wrote a note to Leasly." I had passed on Leasly's comment message to Isabella, and she was very encouraged to know she was going to such a kind human.
"Is there anything else you need?" Rapunzel asked.
Our friend shook her head. "I just...wanted to thank you both for being so kind to me ever since Beast'sbelle opened my box. You made me feel welcome from day one."
I closed my eyes for a moment and just listened to her voice. I wanted to remember her beautiful, lilting French accent even after she'd left us.
"It was our pleasure," Rapunzel answered Isabella warmly.
"I hope you're very happy in your new home," I told her.
There was more to our conversation, but mostly we just stood there in silence, all of us lost in our own thoughts. I do remember asking her if she'd had a chance to say goodbye to Ben and the others. She didn't give me many details, but she assured me that she had said goodbye to everyone she needed to. She'd saved us for the very last.
I think the saddest thing for me about the whole situation was imagining the friendship that might have been had Isabella stayed with us longer. Please don't misunderstand me...I enjoy Isabella's company and consider her one of my closest friends apart from Robby and Rapunzel. Still, I felt a little cheated, like we hadn't really had the time to cultivate our friendship. Between our different situations and all of the shelf rearranging, Isabella hadn't spent much time with us in the past few months. I think with time and some effort, the three of us could have been really great friends, even closer than we were now. But now we'd never know. Isabella would remain in our hearts, but keeping a close friendship long distance would be very difficult. Our worlds would be very different now. I would have to be content with remembering the good times with her and perhaps hearing from her every once in a while.
All too soon, it was time to say our official goodbyes. I thought back to my initial impression of her, this doll with the fancy clothes who loved to change her outfit every five minutes. I hadn't been too impressed then, but now I knew what a treasure I was losing. At least I knew she was going to a good home where she would be cared for. It helped...a little.
And then, just like that, she was gone. Rapunzel and I stayed in our places for a moment, wiping our teary eyes and trying to control ourselves. We didn't want to distress our children, after all. Especially Emilie, who was old enough to notice more than the babies.
Rapunzel suddenly swayed, and had to grab the edge of the books to steady herself. She rubbed the back of her neck.
"Are you okay?" I asked her worriedly.
She shook her head slightly, then winced. "I don't know, just all the sudden my neck is really hurting again."
"Let me see," I told her.
She turned. "It's right here, on my left side," she explained.
I took a look and suddenly felt lightheaded. There on her neck, in the exact spot she'd described, was a huge crack in her plastic! I could actually see the ball joint from her head through the hole!
I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, or go tearing off to find Ben, or maybe pass out (I never was good with medical issues!), but I didn't want to alarm her.
After a few botched attempts, I finally found my voice. "Um, you should probably sit down, Rapunzel."
My friend looked worried. "What is it, Belle? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"You've...um...got a bit of a...crack in your neck. But don't panic!" I told her quickly. "I'm sure we can take care of it. If you sit here, I'll go get Ben and Eugene."
Rapunzel slowly lowered herself to a sitting position, grimacing as she did so. She wasn't panicking, but she looked like she was going to be sick.
"It'll be okay," I assured her, trying to stay calm. "I'll be right back with the guys, okay?"
My friend didn't respond, but just stared off into the distance, twisting her hands together nervously. I had to get help, and fast.
As I scrambled up the white shelves to find Ben and Eugene, my plastic heart was pounding. What if Ben couldn't fix the problem? Would Beast'sbelle still keep Rapunzel? How would her life be affected if she had to live with a hole in her neck? Would things ever be the same?
I could feel panic welling up within me. My face was wet, and I realized that somewhere along the line, I'd started crying again. I had to calm down or I wouldn't be useful to anyone. But my friend needed help, and I was hoping beyond hope that Ben would have the answers.