Monday, May 14

A Story of Very Small Bear

[Note: A Story of Very Small Bear is a fictionalized account of real events by John-Brian Paprock. Just thought you should know...]

Not every toy and stuffed animal bought has the wondrous journey of the Velveteen Rabbit, although they all aspire to loved that much. Usually, reaching the high state of being loved and becoming real is reserved for the stuffed animals of children who must outgrow their beloved, yet will always cherish the memories of comfort afforded their youth. Even then, it is becoming more and more difficult for toys and stuffed animals to compete with video games and the Internet.  They are discarded sooner, before they can be loved enough to overcome the inanimate state in which they were created.

Occasionally, there are rare exceptions of the service of such comforting angels who come in the form of stuffed animals and become loved in such abundance that the length of time has little to do with the miraculous reality of protecting those that feel vulnerable or sickly. And it is no longer a precondition that the benefit only be available to the young, but to anyone of any age, if their need is sufficient.

This is a story of one lucky bear who happened to made at the right time and was displayed on the right shelf at the right angle to catch the attention of a hurried husband concerned for his wife's condition.

The bear wasn't particularly unique, being among many of his own ilk, except his eyes. His glistening deep blue plastic eyes sparkled real, or at least as real glass. Those blue eyes were sewn in such a compassionate expression it made the stitching of his embroidered smile seem equally compassionate. The husband, although hurried, was surprised how much the compassion expressed by a stuffed animal caught his attention.  He looked through the other small white bears gathered on the shelf (and even the shelf below). None of them had the compassion and earnestness of this special bear. 

As the husband carried the bear, he noticed that the bear had a hybrid stuffing that was sort-of beanie-baby type stuff and fluffy stuff.  His white fur was plush and soft. The husband found himself petting the bear's head as he stood in line at the store. He glanced around to see if anyone noticed and then, with some embarrassment, glanced down at the bear who seemed to be staring back at him knowingly, and with a compassion that made the husband less embarrassed and even a bit comforted.

"She will love this bear," he thought as he checked out and walked to the car. He glanced into the bag to see where the bear was among the groceries. On the right, next to a bunch of bananas and a bottle of ibuprofen sat the bear, smiling back at the husband as though he could hear the loving thoughts and feel the loving intentions.

 He arrived home, turning the kitchen light on with his elbow as he brought the bag of groceries and placed the bag on the counter.

"Is that you?" The inquiry came from the bedroom.

"Yes. It's me, sweetie. I got something special for you."

"Did you get milk?" He turned around and there she was in her pink bathrobe, grabbing the edge of the bag to peek. The all of the sudden she squealed (well, there may be more dignified words for the sound she made, but she did squeal).

"Awwww. He's so cute!" she said as she carefully pulled a small white furry animal from the bag. The bear was ecstatic for he knew he was made for her.  She delightfully and carefully placed in the palm of her hand so that he sat up as he did on the store shelf.  She stared into his face with such a smile. Her husband recognized her joy bubbling up as she began to giggle.

"Oh my, look at his eyes!" she exclaimed in a whisper as she stroked his fur around his ears with one finger. "They are so blue; almost as blue as yours, sweetie! Thank you!"  She turned and gave her husband a big hug and kissed him on the neck. He blushed a bit and giggled.

"I knew it as soon as I saw him," he said in a self-congratulatory manner. His smile was almost as big as hers.  The bear was inwardly at peace and immediately felt love for these humans. As she hugged her husband, she looked over his shoulder at the bear in her hand.

"He's perfect; just the right size. He is very small, but he is the exact size. He fits into my hand perfectly," she said with adoration as she closed her hand around the bear, softly. The bear let out an inward sigh that the humans could not hear. He felt completely safe and completely loved.

"Do you think the others will be jealous?" her husband asked jokingly, but this was a serious question to his wife.

"I don't think so," she said with a frown on her face. But as she brought the bear to her face for a close up view of his face, she shook her head.  "They will all love him. He's so cute and so full of love. He'll fit right in."

She ran back to the bedroom and introduced the bear to the other stuffed animals on the bed. Basil Bear was a new year bear 1998 and he was the elder of the bed.  There was Zachariah, a beanie-baby type lamb that comforted the wife through a major depression. And Purple Distressed Bear, who always helped when there was a lot of anxiety. And Yellow Bunny, whose name always seemed to be on the tip on the tongue and would always be remembered later. And Flower, a new bunny with pink ears with a flower embroidered on her belly. And a bedtime Topo Gigio, who only said the Lord's Prayer in Italian when his belly was pressed.

"And this is, um, well, this is Very Small Bear," she said as an introduction as she held her hand open palmed with the white bear to entire bed crew.  Her husband chuckled into his hand from the door. He was very happy that this small token of affection had brought so much joy. All of the sudden, she said, "I am so very tired."

"Is there anything I can get you?"

"No, please come to bed," she said as she curled into her side of the bed. The bed crew of animals at her head and neck in the middle. She held Very Small Bear in her hand. On her side, she looked at him closely, petting his head, staring at the compassionate expression and the sparkling blue eyes.  She sighed.  Her husband came over and helped her take off the robe and get tucked in.  She never let go of Very Small Bear. Looking into his face again and smashing their noses together, her husband could hear her giggle as she said, "You ARE a Very Small Bear."

He went to gather his books and the daily puzzle, go to the restroom and undress, so that he could lie next to his wife.  By the time he arrived at the bed, his wife was already asleep. It was not her fault she was so sleepy. The medicine made her very tired. She seemed to suffer so when she was awake. It was good that the medicine helped her sleep, he thought as he kissed her on the cheek and said softly, "Good night, my sweet wife."

She smiled but did not wake up. He notice that her hand was completely relaxed and yet Very Small Bear lay perfectly in her hand against her fingers with his head poking out.  It was almost as though he winked at the husband to reassure him that she would be fine; that all the love he felt for her was held in this very small soft furry stuffed animal body and, while in her hand, a transference of security, comfort, support and warmth flowed into her heart and melted away all illness, all pain in both of them.  The husband laid back, turned on his light and opened his book. Evey so often, he would glance over at Very Small Bear who joyfully continued his work through the night.

The amount of love Very Small Bear was almost too much to hold within his very small body. At one point, during the night, the wife's hand loosened enough, so that, when she turned, he fell to the floor.  He found himself quite animated, able to walk around.  He began to explore the area next to the bed, looking up at the wife and wondering how he was going to get back into her hand. 

The other animals of the bed, came to the edge and leaned over.  They had all sorts of questions, but none of them offered to help him back up to the bed. Finally, he asked directly for some help and they devised a way of reaching him with blankets and pillows cases and a few arms and legs. Topo Gigio said the Lord's Prayer in Italian, mostly because the wife grabbed him while she was sleeping. 

All of the sudden, she woke up, disrupting the bed crew's rescue plans. She ran into the bathroom. With the sound of the flushing toilet, she slowly walked back to the bed. She stopped abruptly and looked at her hands in the hallway light streaming into the bedroom.  "Where is Very Small Bear?"

She was distressed and began to look, calling for him, "Very Small Bear. Very Small Bear. Where are you?"

Her husband woke up and asked, "What's going on?"

"I can't find Very Small Bear," she said almost tearfully. And he began to look as well.  Just as he was reaching for the main light, she exclaimed "There you are! Don't wander too far away when you are on the floor. Remember, after all, you are a very small bear."

She pat him on the head and held him close to her. "Did she know?" thought Very Small Bear, but it really didn't matter. 

Very Small Bear felt he had found his purpose because of the ease of comfort he felt as she wrapped her fingers loosely around him. She kissed him on the head, curled back up on her side of the bed, and then quickly sat up. She leaned toward her husband and reached her empty hand for him.

"Thank you, my swee', so very much for the love of Very Small Bear. He fits perfectly and comfortably in my hand. It's like he was made for me. My heart feels better with him here. Thank you." She leaned over and kissed her husband.

He smiled and said softly, "Good night, my love, and good night, Very Small Bear."

the author sound asleep with the bed crew friends of Very Small Bear
some of the bed crew animals

a real very small bear
photo of baby polar bear
source: Facebook unknown