From In which Christopher Robin and Pooh come to an enchanted place, and we leave them there, in The House at Pooh Corner by A.A.Milne.
“Pooh, when I’m – you know – when I’m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?”
“Will you be here too?”
“Yes, Pooh, I will be really. I promise I will be, Pooh.”
‘That’s good,” said Pooh.
“Pooh, promise me you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I am a hundred.”
Pooh thought for a little.
“How old shall I be then?”
“I promise,” he said.
Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh’s paw.
“Pooh,” said Christopher Robin earnestly, “if I – if I’m not quite – ” he stopped and tried again – “Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won’t you?”
“Oh, nothing.” He laughed and jumped to his feet. “Come on!”
“Where?” said Pooh.
“Anywhere,” said Christopher Robin.
So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.
* * *
I don’t know why…pregnancy hormones, perhaps…but reading this chapter, the final chapter in the collection of Pooh stories, to Elka the other night, I began to cry. My chest constricted, and as I read, I fought back the tears, until I couldn’t contain them and I was sobbing like I haven’t sobbed in years. Elka sat closer, one hand on my arm, her big brown eyes focused on me intently. Mama, are you OK? she asked. Do you need Dew Tea* to make you feel better? I couldn’t stop. She, Pooh, Christopher Robin, the book, everything. I couldn’t stop.
What was it, other than the pregnancy hormones that made me cry so?
I have been thinking about it ever since.
Perhaps is was just the pregnancy hormones.
But perhaps, it was the end of Winnie-the-Pooh & The House at Pooh Corner, only my favourite storybook ever written. I had never read this far into the collection of Pooh stories, so perhaps I was taken aback that it actually did end at some point…that those stories didn’t somehow miraculously continue into infinity, like I somehow imagined they would. All things, even the best thing, must end. Maybe this is why I couldn’t hold back tears.
Perhaps it was because every time the relationship between Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh is referred to, I well up. To me, their friendship and their love for each other is so perfect. Well, you laughed to yourself, “Silly old Bear!” but you didn’t say it aloud because you were so fond of him, and you went home for your umbrella. Their friendship is built on trust and respect. On affection. On warmth. Maybe this is why I cried.
Perhaps it was because, behind the words of this final Pooh Bear chapter, lies a metaphor. A metaphor that represents ageing, and the leaving behind of childhood. The fact that imagination and childish dreams and the desire to do Nothing can’t continue forever, and we must all at some point enter the land of Reality. It is only on visiting our Enchanted Place that we can return to our childhood imaginations, like visiting an old friend for a cup of tea and realising that your friendship will never be as it was when you were young. Maybe I cried because, at some point, we all have to grow up.
Or, perhaps it was just the pregnancy hormones.
Am I the only one in the world who loves Winnie the Pooh this much? What about you? Will you join me? And do you ever cry like a hungry and under-slept toddler when reading a children’s book out-loud?
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*Dew Tea refers to the bottle of warm milk and water that Elka drinks, lying on our laps, touching our face. Her comfort.