I first stumbled across this teddy in a newsagent over a year ago, far from home where I rarely venture, the morning Michael announced he was going to join the army. In search of comfort I reached to the highest shelf where the bear sat alone and unique. I took him down, held him close then quickly placed him back and reached for a tissue instead. No amount of soft toy therapy was going to brighten my day or help me to avoid facing reality. If I didn’t want to see my youngest son in a slouch hat and camouflage gear, I surely didn’t want this cuddly little soldier in my collection as a reminder of the changing times ahead.
I recall wandering aimlessly around the shopping centre that day and at the end of my expedition, laden with a trolley full of groceries and thrift shop finds, stopped by for another glimpse of the bear who by then was calling to me, as all bears do, “Please take me home”. I walked away.
Weeks passed. Many times I thought of phoning and asking “Do you still have that army teddy bear?” Perhaps it would make a nice farewell gift for Michael and I’d even read stories of military men who kept such mascots with them during training and overseas postings. I didn’t phone.
Then months later while driving past the same shopping centre on my way to somewhere else, I suddenly felt compelled to stop. If the bear was still there, I’d rescue him. He was…..and I did.
Once home I found it difficult to decide what to do with him. I certainly didn’t want to put him on display. I was still moving in and out of denial phase and thought his presence would imply acceptance. Confused, I tossed the newest addition to my ‘hug’ of bears into the back bedroom. And there he stayed out of sight and out of mind until now.
His tag reads ‘Tic Toc Teddies’ and today at 0800 hours I sat him on Michael’s bed. It seems this bear wasn’t meant to be a good luck or a graduation gift. Rather he will sit and wait patiently, as we will all try to do, for our real soldier to come home safely from a job he is enjoying so many miles away. In the meantime we can stop by and smile at the furry friend keeping his pillow warm.