Do you remember the first toy or stuffed animal you loved? We mean really loved. Chances are pretty good that at some point you had one and chances are even better that it was some kind of stuffed animal. You’d take it everywhere and your mom or dad would have to sneak it away to clean it every once in awhile. (Heck, you might even still have yours and if you do, that’s amazing, and we won’t tell anybody.)
For seven-year-old Eli Donaldson, that stuffie was Mimi, his soft, red monkey that followed him everywhere and anywhere. Eli’s dad Morgan gifted it to his mom Amy on Valentine’s Day back in 2012 and even though he was only nine months old at the time, he claimed it as his own—and who were his doting parents to argue?
Eli as a toddler with Mimi
In the years that followed, Eli and Mimi would do pretty much everything together—as in, Andy and Woody from Toy Story type stuff. On Valentine’s Day 2017, they even went as far as having a 5th birthday party for the little red monkey. He was part of the family. Like a family pet.
Eli and his Dad Morgan—Mimi
A year later, Eli wrote his public speaking speech at school about Mimi. He was selected to represent his class and present his speech in front of the student body. He brought his best friend on stage with him (see picture below) and his family couldn’t have been any more proud.
Eli speaking about Mimi
In August of last year, things took an unfortunate turn. Morgan took the kids out to run some errands and somewhere between going to Costco and the bank, Mimi was lost. Whether he fell out of the car or was put down in the store is unknown, all they knew was that he was missing and Eli was devastated. They retraced their steps several times over the next few weeks, asking several times at each location if anyone had handed in a red monkey.
They figured something like that would stick out in people’s minds. The closest they came to a reunion was with a lost Elmo. As the weeks went on, Eli struggled with his sleep and often cried out for his best friend. Watching this unfold was devastating for the family—including his sister Charlotte—and they tried their best to support him through the loss.
Fast forward to October 2018, and the wound was still fresh. Amy posted about Mimi having been lost on social media and was flooded with well wishes from family and friends who knew of the bond. A couple weeks later, Eli recieved a package in the mail.
Amy’s cousins from Ottawa had sent him a new soft, red monkey—very similar to Mimi, but just different enough. He was completely overwhelmed and sobbed in a bittersweet type of way his mom and dad picked up on. While he was instantly thankful for their thoughtful gift, he still couldn’t get over the loss of his beloved friend. Nevertheless, Eli took to the new monkey, affectionately named “Meems", and they became new pals.
As things carried on, Eli still never gave up hope that somehow Mimi would show up some day. Once in awhile he would say, "So, we have to go look for Mimi again, okay guys?" He wanted no leaf unturned across the entire city of Peterborough. Morgan and Amy would lovingly agree, but would look at each other with that helpless look that parents give each other when their child's heart is broken. If you’re a mom or dad, you know the feeling.
Eli and his mother Amy: The Reunion with Mimi at Cora
This past Family Day, the Donaldsons had some errands to run and decided to do them as a family. After their first stop, they decided on a pit stop at Cora for breakfast. Being Family Day, the restaurant was super busy. Gourmet breakfasts have a way of attracting people’s attention.
Morgan's friend, Cheryl, who is a waitress at the restaurant, was working and though she wasn't their server, popped by the table to say a quick hello. While they were chatting away, she noticed that Eli had Meems with him, which was interesting because after the loss of Mimi, Meems rarely left the house for fear of misplacing another friend.
Cheryl asked Eli the monkey's name and commented that he was cute, followed by these words they’ll never forget: “There's actually another one just like him here, too, at the restaurant."
Morgan and Amy assumed she meant another child in the restaurant had a stuffed monkey with him as well, but she continued, "Yeah, just like him. He's been here for the longest time!" The two looked at each other, "Just like him? Red?", Morgan asked. "Yep!" "Does he have hearts on his belly too?", Eli asked. "Yeah, he does!"... It couldn't be. It could.
Morgan quickly explained about his long lost friend, and asked if they could see it. Gently telling Eli not to get his hopes up, they watched intently as Cheryl walked over to the hostess stand, bent over, and reached in. When she came up holding the monkey, their jaws just about hit the floor. It was Mimi! Eli immediately began to cry. Amy began to cry. Cheryl began to cry. No one could believe it.
Somehow Mimi, who was lost in Costco or at the bank, made it to Cora and was accidentally left on a table after the customers who found him left. Over the next few months, Cheryl hid him to keep someone from giving up and throwing him away.
Like Eli, she didn't lose hope that the soft, little red monkey would be reunited with his owner. After seven months apart, the two best friends were together again and we can officially say that with just a little bit of faith all things are possible.