Letter to my Son's Teddies: Thank You
Dear This Teddy, Both Teddy and Brownie,
I cannot tell you what you have, and still do mean to this family. Since our dear boy was born, you guys have watched over him, snuggled with him, comforted him, and encouraged him as no one else could. I can remember vividly how each of you came to be in his life and heart, as though you were born to this family as well. I have rarely seen my dear boy without one or all of you by his side, and you are as much a part of the fabric of this family as he is.
This Teddy. You were the first. You came into this world through the loving hands of his beloved Meemaw, who made you to be his companion while he was still growing and preparing for this world in my womb. I remember how soft you were when I first laid eyes on you at my baby shower, sitting on the table next to the cake for all to see and admire. You were so homey, so comforting. Your blue ears and blue hands and feet matching perfectly to the color I would later paint his bedroom in the new house, as though it was all meant to be. Those first special days you were on the changing table. He would reach up and run his fingers through your fur during those early diaper changes. He'd chew on you as he started sprouting those teeth that came so early. Soon after you were in his arms all day. You became a girl when he was forced to accept we did not plan on giving him sisters to go along with his brother. I had his picture taken with you early on, and I'm so glad I did. You now look like you've been well loved. I do not say that critically; I say that with deep affection. You've had to be washed so many times, and your fur is a bit more matted these days. You've had some repairs required by Meemaw, but there you sit today. In a place of honor on his bed as he is at school, waiting for his return.
Both Teddy. You arrived within a day or two of our dear boy. When we returned home from the hospital, a huge planter of hydrangeas was delivered from our friends, and you were attached to the planter. You were on that changing table with This Teddy at first, but you were shortly adopted along with him to a place of higher purpose. Your soft yellow ribbon and around your neck is so tattered and torn it can no longer be pulled into a bow. You are showing bald spots on your body from so much rough play and numerous washings. You now are adorned with a special necklace of beads made especially for you in preschool that is only removed for washings. There was the night his brother dropped you from the wagon on an outing, only realized later at home when it was dark. His Daddy had to drive up and down the roads around us with a flashlight trying to spot your dark figure in the black of night. It was a miracle he found you, but the tears your return dried up are not forgotten.
But what I love most are your adventures. You have been the subject of countless hair raising adventures around the world. His eyes would light up as huge as silver dollars as he animatedly described your adventures on the high seas on pirate ships, swimming with sharks, being run over by trains, his arms waving wildly and he'd hop around showing us how they went. You often live in Australia, a place that has captured his wonder. When his baby brother was born, you had a little sister. He would tell us about your emotions that so closely mimicked his own in new circumstances. He'd process how he felt through you, communicate those feelings so hard to describe by telling me about you. You have been my window into his mind, his heart, for years. When Grandma had to move away, you helped me see how he was dealing with the separation, and helped him process and come to terms with it. You will never know how helpful these insights have been for us.
Brownie. You have the longest history with the family, even if you were the last one "adopted" by our boy. You were the beloved choice of his father as he grew up. You show all the tell-tale signs of the love he held for you. You've received many stitches from Meemaw, and even had your eye replaced once. It's still cracked in one spot. For years you sat on a shelf collecting dust. Sorry for that, but his Dad grew up and no longer played with toys. He never let you go though. The man that does not save things for sentimental reasons very often never parted with you. I remember clearly the day our boy carried you into me, still dusty, cradled lovingly against his chest. He was so excited when he told me that you were his Daddy's, and that he loved you. His Daddy told him he could have you if he was careful with you due to your advanced age. He really took that to heart! Years later he still carries you with care as though you are so fragile. He has carefully taught his little brother the "proper" way to handle you. You have slept in his bed, watched movies with him, rode along in his trucks through the house for years. He will not sleep if you are not in the menagerie of his bed each night. He's so proud to share you with his Daddy, to share that bond with you. Thank you for being patient all those years on the shelf til he was ready for you. It certainly paid off.
I love your names. They are unique to you as he is to me. So named as he was just learning to talk, before he began giving objects real names. When he'd be trying to communicate with us that he wanted one of you we'd ask "Which Teddy? THIS teddy? Or do you want BOTH Teddies?" He interpreted these conversation to mean your actual names were THIS Teddy and BOTH Teddy. So stinking cute!
I remember our first vacation with him when he was two-years-old. Our extended family all went to Disney World. We knew you must go with us or he would never be able to sleep. We never moved from one spot to the next with out all of us, even grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins checking for you to ensure you were not left behind somewhere. They jokingly asked what we'd do if we got to Florida and found out we'd left you behind? Our answer was simple: Fly back home to get you or the trip would be ruined! You went into the parks with us, saw the sights, rode the rides. You reassured him in that strange hotel room and bed that he was still safe, it was okay. You never left his side. All trips since the same, you MUST be with us, in the car, not packed away.
Today, our boy is taking his first steps to growing up. He's now in kindergarten, and you are no longer able to follow him to school as you did in preschool for nap time. On occasion, he'll fall asleep without realizing one of you was left on the couch downstairs. Not often, but it happens now. I know that, though still down the road, the days will come when he no longer needs you there all the time to sleep. When he will go to the park without one of you there. His loyal, and faithful companions. It is because of your support he'll be able to do this. A tad cautious and timid by nature, you've bolstered his self-confidence so many times allowing him to venture off from us at his own speed because he had you there to comfort him. By doing your job so well, he'll feel confident on his own one day, as we want him to. As we encourage him to. It's bittersweet though. That passing of time and the becoming the man he will be. While we're proud of who he is, excited by the man he will be, we still want him to stay our little boy forever.
But do not fear. Though we're not the terribly sentimental types to hoard all his past treasures, you will never be given away. You will never be sold in a garage sale. You are part of this family. Though the day will have to come when you are on a shelf observing instead of in the midst of his adventures, your place of honor will be ensured. And, as Brownie can attest so well, there are always later generations to be there for. Our gratitude for your service and friendship cannot be expressed adequately.
For now, I'll say what I can say, and hope you feel the depth of it from my heart...Thank you.
Photo Credit: Katie McDonald.