When Emmali was six, Santa brought her the perfect gift. Talk about regrets.

As his helper, I had gotten a great deal on an antique wardrobe and then filled it with secondhand dance costumes. It fulfilled her dreams to be a princess or a ballerina or a beauty contestant over endless hours. It made me happy that she could open the door of this wardrobe and, like the children of my favorite novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, crossover into a fantasy world. As she outgrew the costumes, she handed those down to her younger sister – the costumes, mind you, not the wardrobe. That would always and forever be hers. So was the dream.

One’s treasure is another’s trash

Fast forward 15 years and she’s tired of trying to find room for it with each move, especially now in her college apartment. “Can you keep it for me?” she phones to ask.

“Maybe after some creative rearranging,” I tell her, reorganizing my home office in my mind. “How will you get it here?”

She says she’ll rent a U-Haul, quite matter-of-factly, without having the facts of the actual expense of this, which would be far more than the furniture’s value. I’d paid less than $100 for it and with all the scratches and scrapes it has incurred, I’m sure it’s worth far less today.

She doesn’t want to get rid of it but she also doesn’t want to keep it in her room for now, or later, or until very much later, she thinks out loud. She’s afraid she would regret selling it. I tell her to give it away to a young family who might be able to carry on the tradition of dress-up and time travel.

“You won’t be mad?” she asks, choking on tears.

“I’m the one who suggested it,” I remind her. “Besides, it went through at least one other family before ours. It’s meant to keep going.” That is, I think but don’t dare say, if anyone else has the stamina to go to all the trouble of restoring it. It could realistically end up in a scrap pile. But we wouldn’t have to know that.

Friends forever, for awhile

Fast forward three months after this conversation when I go visit her. The wardrobe is still in her room, with folded cardboard under the front to keep it balanced. She doesn’t say a word about it and neither do I.

But like an old friend you run into unexpectedly, I was happy to see it – much like the children were when they returned to their fantasy world of Narnia in the second book and found that their lion friend Aslan hadn’t left.

Of course I’m sure it’s much harder to move and store a lion then a cumbersome piece of furniture.