He stood over that doll for what felt like an eternity. I guess in many ways, it had been. His whole life, they were a team. Calvin and Hobbes. It was like one could not exist without the other. The doll wore its age now, with little tears and rips scattered across the fabric. Scars from wonderful adventures that had taken together. He sat and remembered it all. Their trips into deep space. The dinosaurs. The clones. The snowmen. Bullies and existential bickering. Long debates on why the world wages war instead of waging peace. The two would have moments so profound, they felt like they would ripple through the fabric of eternity forever. But they were older now. Things had changed. It was time for him to move on to a new section of his life, and with that, it meant closing a beloved chapter in his life. The chapter they had written together, Calvin AND Hobbes.

But he knew for a long time that this moment was coming. You can’t hold on to a toy forever. There comes a point when you need to let it go, and move on to the next chapter, even if you are unsure what that chapter holds. He picked the small toy up one final time, tears welling slowly in his eyes. He thought back to all the times they pondered about death and goodbyes. He remembered how, in those moments, they never thought it would be one of them having to say goodbye to the other. It always felt like that scary stuff stayed just outside their bubble. But this was life. They were grown ups now, and part of that meant saying goodbye. Even if it is the hardest goodbye either would ever have to say.

Suddenly the goodbye fled from his mind, and he remembered the hello. The first moment these two met, and how it was something magical and out-of-this-world from the get-go. You get a toy dropped at your feet, you do what anyone does. You pick it up. Thing is, he didn’t have to. As soon as everyone else walked away, the little thing bounced to life on its own. Adorable, snarky, and way too smart to be a toy, from that moment forward they were Calvin and Hobbes. Not two separate things. One being, who shared a world and made it a whole lot less ugly as a result. Years later it dawned on him: this will be the last time I ever play with you. More tears clustered in the corner of his eye as this reality flooded him once again. For a second he almost wished he never got the toy, so he wouldn’t have to deal with this moment. But then he remembered the sledding and dancing and tree forts and realized, worth it. He wouldn’t have traded it for anything. But he knew, now it was time for him to move on. And he knew in his heart that his perfect little toy knew it, too. But that didn’t make it any easier.

“Come on, bud, you need to put that down. I know it’s hard, but it’s time.” Susie’s words rang true, but they felt like little hot needles, sticking into him. “It’s time for the next chapter for you.” He knew she was right. The era of Calvin and Hobbes had to end, because all the best things end sometimes. That is what makes them special. The tiger remembered it was Calvin who taught him that, as he opened his jaws and let the little toy that looked like a blonde haired boy fall into his toy chest in the corner of his cage. Susie walked over and put her hand on Hobbes head. “Come on, bud. It’s time.” The tiger looked up at her through sad eyes. It was time.

Hobbes hobbled forward, old and haggard. He had lived the life most animals in a zoo would dream of. He flew to distant planets. He learned about life and love and faith. He battled mutants and out smarted parents, all while caged in. He had no regrets, but felt an instant sadness as he left his only friend, chewed up, in a toy box behind him, inside a cage he would never see again. Susie walked Hobbes into a white room just off of his cage, and put a small piece of meat up on the table, so Hobbes would use the last of his energy to hop up and munch it down, eagerly. Susie got the shot ready while Hobbes scarfed down his final meal.

Still unaware that the smart beast could understand them, she began to speak to Bill, her coworker who wore the nerd glasses and was pretty much the nicest guy ever. “Can’t believe they are shutting us down. Get rid of zoos to make more room for malls and Starbucks. Makes me sick. Kids NEED animals and animals need kids” She took the shot in her hands and began to stroke Hobbes’ head. Hobbes began to get scared, but knew Susie would do what was best for him. She slowly leaned in and said “don’t worry bud, this might sting a bit, but soon, you and Calvin will be together again.” In that moment, Hobbes laughed to himself as he remembered one of Calvin’s wildest and most wonderful revelations:

WHAT IF WE DIE AND IT TURNS OUT GOD IS A BIG CHICKEN? WHAT THEN!!!

And in that moment he felt peace as he began to drift away. Aware that the next time he saw Calvin, they very well might be standing next to a giant chicken, laughing and dancing together again. Only this time, the dancing would never have to stop…