So this story starts with the friends that are chosen for us by our parents before we are able to choose for ourselves. Before I was born, my sister became best friends with a boy from her Kindergarten class. From there, our mothers became best friends and it was inevitable when I was born a couple years later that Christopher Fox and I would grow up side by side. Christopher was a year older than me and as far back as I can remember memories, I can see his face.
He was in my life from the beginning, he was my family. I remember playing in my basement when we were very young and deciding that we were so much more than best friends, we were cousins. We were family.
I always looked up to him growing up. He was so funny and charismatic, he made anyone who was around him happy. But he was also so brave and fearless and stood up for himself. He stood up for me. I was always small and he would protect me. He made me feel supported, safe and strong. It takes a very special kind of person to be able to build someone up like that. This world needs more people like that.
And although towards our teenage years, we started to drift apart and hang out with different crowds, we were still cousins. We hadn’t been talking much by the end of high school but he would still ALWAYS kiss me on the cheek in the hallway when we passed each other. It just came naturally to love each other because we always had. Family is forever. Chris was the most loyal person I’ve ever met. He stood by his friends and family no matter what and he was PROUD of it.
He passed away shortly after his graduation and while his life was cut much too short, it was a beautiful life that brought so much light into this world. When I feel like my whole world is falling apart, I close my eyes and can hear his voice, the way he said my name and his laugh. He had that kind of laugh that could make a whole room full of people burst out laughing. He always helped to give me strength growing up, and his memory continues to do so. I am so eternally grateful to have spent 17 years with such a beautiful soul.
For this reason, I always think about the people who surround L. I want her to find someone who can give her strength during really hard times and grow along side her from friendship to family. I also want her to know that I will always share my strength with her when she can’t seem to find her own. I knew before she was born that I wanted Christopher to be a part of her life because he had such an immense impact on the person I am today. It’s hard to even mentally prepare to talk to your child about death, let alone trying to find the right words. So I decided to give L a Christopher Fox of her own.
Now for those of you who do know me, you can probably figure out where this is going. But for anyone reading who doesn’t know us personally – when L was about 4 months old I picked out a stuffed animal fox and we named it Topher. I had no idea what the plan was from that point on but I figured it was a start to teaching L about my dear friend who was taken much too soon.
Since that first night I brought Topher home to L, she has not gone a night without him. We always joke that he is the fourth member of our family because he is so important to our little girl. Mike often tells a story to people who are just learning about Topher of the time we flew to Florida.
L had just turned one and we thought if we took a late flight the baby would sleep the whole way, which is laughable looking back at it now. By the time the flight was over, the contents of our carry on was flung all over our row, under chairs, in the back compartments of the seat; pure chaos. L had finally fallen asleep on me about 15 minutes before arriving which left poor Mike to try and clean up our mess all on his own. As we we’re leaving I turned to Mike and said “you have Topher right?” He looked at me with the most serious look on his face and said “I would never leave Topher. He’s part of the family.” It was true, L and Topher are inseparable.
We of course have backups and one day we decided to see what she would do if she could play with two Tophers and her sweet little heart was just over flowing with joy.
L is so bonded to Topher the Fox that now he not only sleeps with her but goes just about everywhere we go. She feeds him, throws all her baby dolls on the floor to push him in the stroller, sings to him, gives him makeovers, tucks him in at night and he without a doubt gets more hugs and kisses than mommy and daddy combined. Totally not jealous…….
Watching how deeply she loves and cares for this little stuffed animal makes me feel like I am doing something right as a mommy. I like to believe I am modeling this kind of nurturing and kindness and she is mirroring it to Topher who she feels responsible for keeping safe. It goes beyond that for her though, because he keeps her safe too. He makes her feel secure and he makes anywhere he is “home” for my sweet girl.
When she is old enough I will tell her all about the wonderful human who he was named after and all the lessons I learned growing up along side Chris. Topher will forever be a part of our family. He is a constant reminder of how precious life is and how important it is to surround ourselves with people who fill our world with sunshine.
RIP Christopher Fox, you are always remembered, deeply missed and forever loved.
Tip: For any parents who have kiddies with security objects, we have an indoor Topher and an outdoor Topher (that she can take in public but stays in the car) so she isn’t dragging a disgusting germ ridden stuffed animal around our home and into bed every night. We found this easier than having to wash him anytime she brought him to the store/park/zoo etc. and much easier than fighting with her to leave him at home.