There’s a teddy bear that sits on my bed. At 46 years old, its probably not apropos, but regardless, it is there. It is there to serve as a reminder for me. A reminder of love. When I was going through an extremely painful time in my life, I took my youngest son Matthew to a local summer festival. It was a warm June evening, and Matthew was 12 at the time.
The streets were crowded with people. Families, teenagers, and children were scrambling to ride every ride. The smell of cotton candy and fresh popped popcorn filled the air. Crowds gathered to hear local bands, buy hotdogs and soda, and enjoy the fresh warm air of early summer in the Midwest. All in all, it was a perfect summer evening.
But all I saw that night were couples. Couples in love. Men with their arms wrapped around their women, sharing a bite to eat, holding hands as they listened to the music play. Couples waiting in line to ride the Ferris wheel, or the tilt a whirl. And seeing those couples so happy and in love brought an even greater loneliness to my heart. It was all I could do not to cry. I swallowed back the tears, hoping that Matthew was enjoying himself enough to be oblivious to my pain.
I felt cheated that evening. Cheated out of love. Cheated out of the security and comfort that being in a relationship brought. Cheated out of having the life I had always dreamed about. Cheated out of having a wonderful husband and father for my children. And I felt so very very alone.
“Snap out of it Debbie! Stop feeling sorry for yourself!” my inner voice kept telling me. But when your heart is breaking, there is no rationalizing with it. It must feel the pain. It must mourn the loss, before it can heal.
There were of course that night, many carnival games to play. Weathered gents calling out for us to knock down the bottles and win a prize, pick out the right rubber ducky with the lucky marking on its belly, and so on. I had never really enjoyed spending money on trying to win a cheaply sown stuffed animal, but Matthew was persistent, begging for a chance to win a prize.
“Please Mom”, he begged. “I know I can do it! Let me try!” “Fine Matthew”, I said. “Knock yourself out!” Anything to keep him happy and get through this evening.
The first attempt brought us only a loss of the dollar I had spent. “One more time Mom, pleeease!” Matthew begged. “Wouldn’t you rather go on a ride?” I asked. “No Mom, please. I know I can do it this time!” Another dollar spent. Another dollar lost. “Okay Matthew, enough. Let’s move on.”
Once more Matthew begged to try. “This time Mom. Please! I just know this time I will win. I promise! Just one more try. Please Mom!” Already feeling low, I relented and gave him the money. And just like he promised, this time Matthew won. The pride glowed in my son’s eyes as he picked out just the right prize. And just and I was ready to walk away from that little booth, Matthew turned to me and presented me with the most beautiful yellow teddy bear that I had ever seen. I looked up to see such a pure beautiful love reflected in his eyes, that I could not help but cry and hold him and the teddy bear close to my heart. Matthew knew all along how sad and lonely I had been feeling. And in his 12 year old heart, he wanted to ease my pain in whatever way he could.
So from that day on until the day I die, that beautiful soft yellow teddy bear will always hold a special place in my life. It will always represent to me the beauty of true love. We often forget, at least I do, that love surrounds us each and every day. We search for a particular kind of love, one that we feel we are missing out on, only to miss out on the real love that is right in front of us. The love of our children. The love of a friend. The love of a sibling or a parent. So that teddy bear that sits on my bed, that I look at each and every morning, is my reminder every single day, to be thankful for the love that is in my life. I know now what real love is all about. It is present each and every day. If only we are aware enough to see it.
And yes, I still would like to have that special someone to share the rest of my life with. I know that I will meet him when the time is right. But right now, right this very moment, I have 5 very special someones to share my life with. I am blessed. And I am loved. And I am grateful for that. Each and every day.
Written by Debbie Brown