When I was young, at three or four

You'd visit me through garden's door

A friend that no one else could see

Real or imaginary

Written by: Monica M. Brinkman, 5/26/2012

 

How many children have the so-called 'Imaginary Friend' appear when they are quite young? Research shows most experience this and feel it a way to communicate their inner most thoughts, feelings and desires to another person. 

But ... are all such friends truly imaginary? I ask you to be the judge as I speak to you of my own experience as a young child.

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Tasha first appeared to me on a very warm and humid Summer afternoon as I was kicking the dirt beneath my swing seat. I was a bit startled to see this long blond haired, blue eyed girl sitting in the previously empty swing seat next to mine. Even more-so, I felt delight in the possibility of a new friendship. Having two brothers, who thought their little sister 'icky', at times left me quite lonely.

I spent many days in solitary, often creating 'fairylands from the fallen twigs, leaves and flowers I'd find within the grass or pretending I was the Princess Aurora, from the treasured Disney tale fame. How great it would be to actually have someone else to participate in the fun.

Shyly, I turned toward the young girl, dressed in a white pinafore and noticed she was barefoot. My mother would have scolded me if I ran around without shoes, citing maladies such as ringworm forming on my feet and toes, so I wondered if she'd get in trouble not wearing shoes.

"Hi", I finally uttered looking her straight in the face.

"What's your name?"

"Tasha, and what's yours," the reply.

"Monica". Then reluctantly gave her my very odd last name which most other children mocked me about. I awaited the usual response.

Instead, she laughed and stated she would call me Moni if that was okay. I nodded agreeably.

What followed the next few months was a series of playtime, from frolicking through the large woods, exploring the neighbors cornfield, making our own 'fairy lands' to simply talking about my home life, which often included the lack of attention from my mother and two brothers.

It never occurred strange that Tasha never spoke of her parents or siblings or about her home. Or the fact she always met me at the swings. We had so much fun together forming a deep bond of friendship, experiencing each day and moment to the fullest, the subject of her house or even parents never came up.  We took in every single creation, from the sun to the trees to the freshly mowed grass, often laying on our backs looking up at the clouds to see what imagery our imaginations could produce.Tasha and I lived in 'the moment', not questioning the what's or if's.

Don't know why, but I had not told anyone about Tasha, that is until one morning when I asked Mother if Tasha could join me in a tea party. I wished to share my stuffed animals and dolls with my friend. What better way than to have a proper tea party, all attending. 

Of course Mother said Tasha could attend and seemed eager and pleased to meet my new friend. We set up the table, tiny cups, saucers and of course the tea pot and placed my beloved dollies and stuffed toys in their chairs. Off I ran to the swings to invite my friend to the festivities. 

As always, there she sat awaiting my morning arrival, her smile of greeting warming my heart.

"Tash, I'm having a tea party and Mother said you may come."

"Okay. Will your Mother be there?"

"I don't know Tasha. Think she may help pour the tea but then it would be just us."

"Okay. Sounds like fun."

I grasped her hand, eagerly pulling her toward the back porch door. We climbed the steps and entered the Mud Room where our party would take place. 

Mother was standing at the table, dressed in a flower printed cotton dress. She looked at me and asked, " Where is your friend Monica.? 

"She's right here Mommy," I stated as I released Tasha's hand from my firm grip.

Tasha took a place at the table, the chair next to mine and Teddy Bear's. 

"I don't see her Monica"

"She's right next to Teddy Bear, Mommy. She has blond hair and is wearing a white dress." I pointed to the exact spot Tasha sat, wondering why Mother was saying these things.

"Monica, there is no one sitting next to Teddy. Stop lying this instant!

"I'm not lying. She's sitting right there and she's laughing."

Mommy looked at me as though I had said the most awful thing in the world. She grabbed me by the shoulders, looked into my face and told me that if I continued to lie to her, I could go straight to my bedroom. 

Of course, not wanting to lie, I again explained that my friend was indeed at the tea party and pointed to her seat once again.

"That's it Monica! No tea party. No outside. You get to your room right now and don't come out until you can tell me the truth."

I burst into tears, pleading with mommy, repeatedly stating I was telling her the truth. I looked at Tasha for help. 

"Tell her Tasha! Tell Mother you are here and I am not lying."

Tasha's response was to giggle and laugh and squirm in her seat. I couldn't comprehend why she wouldn't speak to mommy. Why wasn't she helping me? Mother steered me toward my bedroom, slamming the door, explaining I could come out when I was ready to tell her the truth. 

I cried for hours, until finally falling into slumber. And when I woke, I did not venture from my room, knowing that what Mommy wanted me to tell her would be a lie and not the truth.  Hours later, Mother brought Daddy into the room in an attempt to make me realize Tasha was all made up; just my imagination. No matter how much they both begged me to deny my friend Tasha's existence, I held steadfast in explaining she was real. I had held her hand, we had combed each other's hair, skipped and danced through the open fields together. How could I say she was anything but flesh and blood?

They gave up in exasperation and allowed me to come out of the bedroom, yet not before telling me I should never mention Tasha to anyone or they'd think me crazy. I promised them I'd keep the secret.

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The next day, I raced toward the swing-set, knowing Tasha would be in the seat, rising high into the air with each leg movement. But she wasn't there this day, nor the next or any day after. I cried for days and begged God to bring her back to me, for I'd lost my best friend and my heart ached with sorrow.

≈ ≈ ≈ 

Years later, I saw an article in the paper about the little girl who had once lived on our property. Her name was Anatasia and at the age of five had died after falling down the basement stairs. The picture was one of a small young girl with long blond hair, dressed in a white pinafore. 

Imaginary friend or spiritual visitor? 

I tend to believe Tasha had come to me when I most needed someone to be a companion and after she saw the trouble I experienced with my parents, she vanished from my life to protect me. 

And again, isn't Karma strange?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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