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Lisa Miller

May 26, 2007

What we save, what we toss out

We are snuggled up in the Dora bed, deciding on a bedtime story. "How about your special book?" Allie asks. It's late and the story is long, but I can't say no.

The book is "Amy's Doll," and I've loved it since I was a little girl. The spine is damaged, the title page, torn; the paper is yellowing and smudged. But the black-and-white photographs of the 8-year-old girl and her broken doll still take me right back to a time when stuffed animals were as essential as blankets, dolls were cherished friends, and anything could be fixed.

I'm barely finished reading the last line of the story when Allie cries, "Again, again! I liked it, I liked it!" So, we turn the pages, looking at the photos and retelling the story in our own words.

I'm not sure why Allie thinks the book is special. Because we don't read it very often? Because it lives on an out-of-reach shelf in my office, instead of on the bookcase in her room? Or because she, too, sees something compelling in the story of the girl who loses her beloved doll and then finds it, dirty and damaged, possibly beyond repair?


Tucked away in a box in my attic, there is a broken doll.

Her name is Baby Tender, and she was my favorite, favorite doll when I was a

little older than Allie. She has a soft, plastic body, fine, blond hair and painted-on eyes. She was the center of all the doll tea parties, and the summer I was a flower girl, she married my favorite teddy bear in a wedding we staged on the front porch.

Most of these adventures happened after Tender's left leg got yanked out of its socket by some neighborhood boys. We tried to reattach it with masking tape, even designed a special cloth contraption to hold it in place, but it never stayed put for very long.

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Lisa Miller

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