Thursday, December 31, 2009
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Many, many winters ago, a little girl was born. Her grandmother sat by her hospital window. She looked at the tiny hairs on the baby's head and started to thread a needle. She touched the baby's cheek and cut some shapes out of cotton fabric. She giggled seeing the little baby's tongue slipping through her tiny lips and snipped a piece of red felt. The baby's eyes were often shut, so Grandma picked some wide-open eyes from her craft box. She sat for hours threading, stitching, cutting. With every paw sewed, she smiled. With every arm attached, she laughed.
Then, with the strength of stiff fingers, she stuffed me with all the love she had. Up into my ears. Around my belly. Down to my toes. The opening was just under my bum. She patched it with a label. “Specially hand-made by Grandma”.
What a relief to be done! We left the hospital. Grandma gave me a final squeeze and packaged me up for Christmas. I peered out of a corner of the wrapping paper. The sun came and went several times.
Lots of people came to visit and stood around a big tree with bright lights and colors. I could see Grandma's mouth wide-open laughing. I could see a baby's mouth wide-open crying. A bigger girl sat under the stockings. Her mouth was closed. She was combing her doll's hair. Who will unwrap me?
Grandma's voice came closer, then I felt like I was flying. From my view, the baby was no bigger than I was. A lady whispered to her, “Look at this. It's your first Christmas present. Let Mommy open it for you.”
That's how it started...and how the crying ended. I lied down next to the baby. She rubbed her nose against my cheek. We were made for each other.
For the first year, I spent a lot of time in the corner of her crib, watching her nap. I often fell asleep too. I sat with her when she drank her bottle. I rolled a safe distance away when she was learning to eat pureed vegetables. The first time I was given a good cleaning, I thought I would never dry!
The baby started walking. I held her hand tightly because she needed to swing her arms so much to keep her balance. Whooooa!
Finally, she walked really well and carried me around the house. She introduced me to her dolls and the other animals. Between tea parties and just sitting around, we all became good friends. We took turns cuddling the baby.
Now that she was three times our size, we stopped calling her a baby. We named her Mye.
“Where's my bear?” “Where's my mouse?” “This is my doll.” It seemed to be her favorite word.
Mye took turns playing with her animals. I will admit it. I was sad to be left in the toy box, especially with the lid shut! I was sad to be left at the bottom of the stairs when she ran upstairs to play with her friends. I was scared when I was left in the car overnight.
The other furry friends and I started to have tea parties without her. Mye was 5 years old and at school every day. After school, she put together puzzles. She colored rainbows. I sat under the kitchen chair and watched.
But at bedtime, Mye would scoop me up from under the table or under a chair in the playroom, wrap both arms all around me and say, “It's time for bed, Teddy. Let's go.”
She told me who her best friends were. She told me who the bullies were. She told me she was afraid of fire. So, we drew an escape plan. I knew we would be ok. I pressed my chin against hers all night.
Mye had to change schools one year. She told me she did not have any friends yet. I knew it would be ok. So, I snuck into her backpack to keep her company. I handed Mye her workbooks once the bell rang.
One summer, when we were about 9 years old. Mye went away to camp. She packed me. I stayed in the cabin most of the day. For a bear, I'm not much for walking in the woods. But, when the cabin door sprung open and laughter climbed into each bunk, Mye grabbed me and told me about her adventures.
When the leaves started to change, I spent days and days just sitting on her bed. It was ok. I knew she would kiss me goodnight. I snuggled with her as much as I could, but she was getting bigger. I lied under her head like a pillow for years. My stuffing got flatter and flatter. What could I do?
I whispered happy dreams in her ear all night.
When Mye went to university, she packed me along. Just like at summer camp, I sat on her bunk all day and watched her come and go. I watched her friends come and go. She told me about her adventures when no one was around.
Then, Mye went to France! We flew on an airplane. Mye sat in a seat. I stayed with the luggage. Once we moved into her new house, I sat on her bed. She told me about her adventures, but her words were different.
We took another airplane back home. Mye was smiling a lot. We moved into an apartment, but I did not sit on her new bed. I slept in a box. Seasons passed. I heard French words once in awhile. Did she really forget about me this time?
Just as I was trying to cry, light shined in between the flaps of the cardboard. Someone was walking into the closet. Someone was lifting the flap and reaching in. It was Mye!
She carried me to the bathroom. I had not been scrubbed like that since the first day she ate spinach.
She went to the next room and sat in the armchair. She threaded a needle. She tucked in some loose fluff and sewed me up. Mye stitched in a fresh new tongue and closed up my nose. Are we going to a party?
“It's time for bed, Teddy. Let's go.”
Mye wrapped her arms around me. She carried me on her shoulder. I saw we were leaving the living room. She sat me down in a dim room. My ear slid again in between the bars of my very first bed.
“This is Teddy. He will watch over you,” Mye told the baby.
And so, I did. I flopped over just close enough to whisper happy dreams in his ear.