I thought about how cute he was, peddling as fast as he could to keep up with his dad and the dog, and how my own Kiddo would most likely react to seeing so much mud on the back of his shirt.
And then suddenly my thoughts were directed back in time...
When I was very young, I had a favorite little doll that I carried with me a lot. Her name was Susie (my name for her - after my mom's best friend), and she wore blue pajamas with white eyelet trim and had a pink bow tying her bonnet. One little lock of blond hair came out of the bonnet and her bottom was a "bean bag" (full of nut shells). She had a pull string that when pulled, allowed her to say the sweetest things.
Anyway, one day I was playing with a friend out in my front yard and I had Susie out there with me. My friend, who was riding her bike, swooped in and snatched Susie away from me and attached her to the back of her bike seat.
I was so mad; I didn't want her to take Susie because I was afraid something would happen to her. I remember screaming to my friend to bring her back to me. After a loop around the cul-de-sac the doll was returned and I was crushed to discover she had indeed suffered an injury. Her head had rubbed on the back tire of the bike, and a deep groove was worn into her head.
I tried to cover it with the lock of hair and the edge of the bonnet. For weeks I kept a band aid over the blemish. Every time I took off the band aid I prayed that she would be miraculously healed. I hated that she had such a nasty mark on her. And eventually, I stopped playing with Susie all together because of it. I just couldn't get past the mark on her head.
Several years later (I am thinking it was just a few years ago) I found Susie in a box in our attic. She was just as I had remembered, with dirt smudged cheeks and that nasty spot on her forehead. I smoothed the eyelet trim and rubbed the pink satin ribbon between my thumb and index finger. Then I pulled her string to hear her speak again and it snapped, leaving the pull loop in my hand. Susie's last words were, "I Love You".