"Me to you" by Stefanie Hombach, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dassi87/

The Teddy Bear

I am here with you hunny girl, I’m not leaving you now.  I’ve loved you for too long… I was your first teddy bear after all.  I know you’re not gonna wake up crying like you used to, but I am still here just like I was back then… but now I’m crying inside wishing you would wake up one more time and need me like you did back then.  Your folded hands are so cold, your skin is so white and your face so sad; and this time I can’t make it better, no one can.  Why did this have to happen?

I remember when your parents brought you home from the hospital; you were so red and all wrinkly, but I loved you.  As you got older and were able to snuggle with me while you slept, that love grew; I knew I would never love another child the way I loved you.  You weren’t a year old yet before the shine left my eyes and the fuzz rubbed all off of my nose, but by then it didn’t matter what I looked like ‘cause you loved me anyway.

You were such a happy child, always laughing, always smiling… except that one time when the neighbor boy tried to steal me and you punched him right in the nose.  I keep thinking of you chasing butterflies down the street; your blond hair blowing in the wind, your deep blue eyes shining with the hope of catching just a single yellow butterfly.  And that time you were picking wild roses and you pricked your finger; I can’t help smiling when I remember the word you said, I couldn’t believe that word came out of your pretty little mouth.

And our tea parties, do you remember those? They were so much fun! You made the best imaginary tea, the tea the other girls made was never as good; even their dollies agreed with me. You were always the hostess, such a little home maker, I remember watching you set your little table in anticipation of the neighborhood girls coming over to play. You always served sugar cookies out of those little round tins, just like your grandma did, and the other girls loved them just as much as you did!

You made good lemonade too! Remember when you were trying to raise money for the orphans in Africa and we set up a lemonade stand?  You made almost $50 that day and your momma sent it to the mission group. You were always like that though, thinking of others. It seems like that was only a few weeks before that stray kitten followed you home, you wanted to keep it so bad, but your momma wouldn’t let you and you were so upset because you knew the kitten needed you. That was you though, trying to save the world one orphan, one lost kitten at a time. I remember thinking that if I could be a human, I wanted to be just like you, ‘cause you were perfect to me! I just wish that you could have saved yourself.  Just having you in my life made my world perfect, but now I am preparing to be lowered deep into the earth with my whole world lying beside me, so cold and motionless.

Do you remember that time you got so sick?  You had a fever of 102 degrees and were throwing up everywhere (Believe me, I remember, cause it was even in my fur!)… and your parents took you to the hospital and you threw a screaming fit when that  nurse took me away from you.  It was agony being parted from you when you were so sick, but I knew they were taking good care of you, and your mom was able to clean me up so you could have me back when you came back home. I missed you so much then, but I knew you were gonna be alright. What am I supposed to do now? When you’re not coming home again?

And when you started kindergarten… I remember thinking you were the prettiest little girl in the whole world; you’re momma had curled your hair and put it up in a pony-tail and you were wearing your favorite red dress and sparkly red shoes.  You took me with you to school all that first year, even though the other kids made fun of me. Looking back it makes sense that they laughed at me; after all, I was awfully shabby by then from being so loved. Even in kindergarten you dragged me around by my arm; your mom had already had to re-attach my left arm three times by then and twice more in later years.

The next year you were all grown up and decided to leave me at home, but I understood, you were just worried about what the popular girls thought of you.  I knew you still loved me though, cause everyday when you came home, the first thing you did was hug me tight and tell me all about your day; a tradition that you continued for the rest of your short life.

Before I knew it you were in the third grade and you had blossomed into a little social butterfly.  You weren’t what you called “popular” but you still had lots of friends and sleep-overs became a regular thing in our lives.  I can still see you and your best friends all sitting there in a circle, dressed in your favorite pajamas (you usually wore your pink flannel pajamas with the crazy monkeys all over them), you’d be playing “Truth or Dare”  or watching a fairytale love story and eating chocolate chip cookie dough by the spoon full. Sleep-overs being sleep-overs not a lot of sleeping took place, but all the girls would bring their favorite teddy bears to sleep with anyway… although no one really admitted that was why they brought them; no one wanted to be the “baby” who still needed her teddy bear to sleep, but us teddy bears all knew why we were there.

As the years passed and you grew up, I came to miss our intimate tea parties but I valued the time I still had with you. You still snuggled me close every night and told me about your day.  When you were in seventh grade you got your first real crush, but now you knew you weren’t like the other girls and it scared you.  That was the first time you realized that you liked other girls but not in a “just friends” kinda way.  I didn’t see the problem with that, but apparently the other kids did and your teachers too.  You asked another girl to the “Spring Fling” dance at school that year… She not only said, “No!” but then proceeded to make your life miserable.  That was basically your “coming out” and you lost most of your friends after that, but you still had me.

You managed to keep the fact that you liked girls from your parents for a bit longer, but then they got that call from the school.  When they went in to talk to your principal they found out that the most popular girl in school and her side kick had beat you up for looking at them wrong, for being, in their words, “a fucking dyke.”  Of course the school sided with them and said you had started the fight, they suspended you for three days and your parents grounded you for a month. You spent all the three day suspension and most of that month in your room with me… crying. You were hurting so bad, and your parents didn’t understand.  I couldn’t understand why your parents were treating you like this just for liking other girls, but I still loved you; after all I am just a lil teddy bear and gender means nothing  to me.

Last summer you were starting to look at universities, you were gonna be a journalist and had the grades to do it too. You were dreaming of working in Africa and writing human interest articles… you were gonna save the world.  That summer away from school had been really good for you, but then your junior year of high school started and the bullying started right up with it; and all that pain from the years before flooded back, stronger than ever.  It didn’t help that things were still bad at home; your parents were threatening to send you to counseling or away to religious boarding school if you didn’t stop liking girls and you were so scared.  Why didn’t everyone else see what I saw?  You were so wonderful, why couldn’t they love you for the person you were?!  Or for the woman you were becoming?

I remember that night so clearly, I always will. You had gone to the pep rally, the one you didn’t want to go to, but your dad forced you to go to… there was a boy there, he thought it was funny to hurt you because you were a lesbian.  When you got home that night you held me while you cried, I heard every word you said as you told me what he did.  How he dragged you under the bleachers and held you down… and raped you.  How no one helped you when you cried for him to stop.  Instead they just laughed, and watched, because you, were just a lesbian.  I wished I could kill them all, but I was still only a little teddy bear… and I did all I could, I loved you and soaked up your tears.  I wish, oh how I wish that had been enough.  When you got up off your bed I thought you felt better, but I was wrong. You came back with a full bottle of aspirin and a razor blade. I was so confused, I had no idea what those things were for; I know now.  I watched, unable to stop you as you downed the whole bottle of aspirin; then as you opened the veins in your arms.  I tried so hard to scream, but no one could hear my little voice.

I laid there with you all night, willing you to wake up, but knowing you never would.  I was laying there with you the next morning when your mom came in to wake you up… she may not have loved you the way you needed, but she did love you.  The look of sheer fear on her face was horrible; her eyes showed such pain when she realized she was too late. She was sobbing so hard when she called 911 that they couldn’t understand her right away.  She gathered you up and held you, rocking back and forth, until they came to take you away.  After they left with your body she held me, I was covered in your blood, but she didn’t care.  Still rocking back and forth we comforted each other, her tears mingled with your blood in my ratty fur and we hurt together.

It has been four days since you left us.  I have been aching for you so bad, wishing you’d come running in to hug me and tell me about your day. Now I am with you again, they cleaned me up so I could sleep beside you in your coffin, forever.  I am glad to be with you again, but I so wish it was in your room and not this mahogany box, this coffin.

You’d be surprised to see how many people were here for your funeral, although you shouldn’t be.   You were far more loved than you realized.  I just wish they had loved you better while you were living, maybe then you’d still be here, maybe then I wouldn’t be wishing I could die with you.  All of your aunts and uncles were here, so were your cousins.  See, I tried to tell you… they loved you too! Your best friend sat with your mom; and your dad showed up too, he sat in the back (I think he blames himself). They all looked sick, like they were about to puke.  Now they are gone and we are here alone again, it is lonely here with your body, but without you.  I miss you so much, why can’t you come back?

There are bouquets of flowers everywhere, the perfume is sickening. Your neighbor, the one who had the wild rose bush that you pricked your finger on, brought you a vase full of beautiful wild roses, I wish you could see them; they are pale pink, just like your cheeks used to be.  And your English teacher, the one that you looked up to so much, she brought you a bunch of orchids, red ones, the color that defined you.  Over your coffin lays a wreath of white roses, they are so painfully pure and beautiful… they remind me so much of you, of your beautiful, pure spirit; but are yet another painful reminder of your now cold, pale skin.

Where are you now? Is it pretty there? Can you see me here; can you see all of us that you left behind?  You could have made it, worked through it. I know it hurt, but it would have gotten better eventually, why did you have to leave me? I may be just a lil teddy bear with shabby fur, a missing nose and second hand eyes… but I loved you so much! Please come back for me! I would do anything to have you back here with me, anything!  I hope you are happy now, wherever you are… I hope your hurting is over.  I am just so mad at you! But I am only mad at you because I hurt so much without you here and I don’t know who to blame.

They will be here soon, to take us to the cemetery. It is right that I am to be buried with you; I couldn’t stand to leave you now.  I can’t help but think, what we are missing? You were really going to be something great! I know you would have made a great journalist! You really would have changed the world, made it better; but you did that every day, just by being in it.  I can just see you over in Africa, I know you would have fallen in love with some orphan and brought him or her home with you; just like you used to do with the abandoned kittens and puppies.  You couldn’t help but love something if it needed you and you would have made such a great mommy.  And I would have loved keeping your babies safe at night from the monsters under the bed… just like I did for you.

They are coming to take us to our place in the cemetery now. I can hear them, their cold, hard footsteps are echoing in the hallway; but before they take us away and the icy earth closes in over us; I want to tell you one more time; I loved you, I love you and I will always love you. Wishing won’t change anything, it won’t bring you back; but I hope to whatever God there is, that someone  learns from your life and decides to live, ‘cause there is a you shaped hole in the Universe now, a hole that I hope no other teddy bear ever has to endure. Maybe even in your death you will have made the world a better place, just like your too short life did and like your stolen years no doubt would have.  Good night sweet girl, take care of you, wherever you are….

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