This is Bear, Beary Bear if we’re being formal. He was my son’s lovey and is now one of my most precious possessions.
I bought Bear when I was pregnant, and he was there to greet my son when we brought him home from the hospital. We have hundreds of pictures of my son growing up, and Bear makes an appearance in many of them.
My son slept with Bear literally every night of his life. He took Bear outside to play, on car rides, to restaurants, and to the doctor. He loved Bear. Bear helped calm him down. Bear provided comfort. Bear was, in a real way, his friend and companion. And Bear was just his; no sharing.
You can tell he loved Bear just by looking. Most adored loveys end up fairly ratty after 10 years, but not Bear. Partly this was due to a reluctance to let Bear be washed too much, and partly it was because my son took care of Bear in a way he didn’t always demonstrate with other things in his life.
Bear went to school long past the time other kids brought stuffed animals. Other kids’ teasing didn’t really bother my son much, but he learned to keep Bear in his backpack. I offered at one point to cut off a piece of Bear’s lining, so my son could have a piece of Bear in his pocket to self-soothe, but he couldn’t handle the idea of his beloved Bear being cut up in any way.
I could always gauge my son’s mood based on Bear. If Bear was close by, he was probably a bit anxious. If he was actively rubbing Bear on his cheek, something was wrong. Hugs, love and help were in order.
That terrible day, after weeping with my husband and my other two children, there came a point when I was prostrate on the sofa, shell shocked. Suddenly, I sat up. Where was Bear?
I tore through the house, looking. Finally, I found Bear, 10 feet away from the spot my son died. I fell sobbing to my knees, thinking how scared and alone my son must have felt, not to have his Bear with him, in reach. It’s a thought that still haunts me.
Bear accompanied my son on his last journey, to the funeral home. He lay where he always had when my son slept, tucked under his arm. But I couldn’t let Bear go. I told Charlie that Mommy needed Bear more than he did now. I know he would have understood.
Bear sits on my beside table. I don’t sleep with Bear anymore, like I did for the first few weeks, but I find an inexpressible comfort in hugging Bear when I feel sad or anxious. I can rub my face along Bear’s soft head and still smell that little boy smell, the scent of my son’s skin. I’m not sure what I will do when I can’t smell that any more.
But meanwhile, I have Bear, a tangible reminder that my son was here, and loved, and loving.