At first glance, one might look at this bear and think it’s time to toss it out. It’s tattered. It’s damaged. It’s messy and falling apart at the seams.
When I first saw it, I considered replacing it, if and when the time seemed right. After all, my kids have loved many toys, but once they get to a certain point, I quietly place them in the trash.
And this toy didn’t seem any different. It’s not a novel character or a family heirloom. It didn’t seem to have a special story behind it.
He said he got it from the “play pen,” which, based on little bits of the story he shares, sounds like he picked it out at the shelter when he arrived.
After several days of growing to know this boy a little more, I saw this bear bring him comfort.
Every night, as he crawled into someone else’s bed, wearing someone else’s pajamas, surrounded by someone else’s family and toys, he held it tight.
So once I found out he would be with us longer, I decided it was time to get my needle and thread out to patch up his treasured toy.
As I started to sew, I began to see this bear through a new set of eyes.
This bear, to the untrained heart, could be viewed as messy, as work, and possibly even, as someone else’s responsibility.
This bear, much like the children who walk through our door, may not have been cared for as well as they should have been, and unfortunately, sometimes it shows. They are fragile, and oftentimes, holding themselves together by what seems like a small thread.
But when we choose to slow down and pay attention to the details, we see more than just what meets the eye. We see uniqueness, beauty, and possibility.
We see a very special story that deserves to be honored.
That night our foster son was happy to see his toy all patched up and lying on his pillow. He squeezed it and shouted, “Yay!”
I tucked him into bed and rubbed his back while he cried about missing his family. Then I sat on the bedroom floor waiting for him to fall asleep as he clutched that little red bear so tight.
Originally published on the author’s Instagram page