Tuesday, 2 June 2009

My Leah Bear

At our support group last week, the leader asked if we had anything physical that we used to comfort us and remind us of our babies. I immediately thought of my bear.

The brand of casket that we chose for Leah's burial (it was actually a combination casket/vault) came with some accessories: a blanket, which I assume they wrapped Leah in, and a little Teddy Bear, which they gave to us at her funeral.

When I first saw the bear I thought it was a bit cheesy. It was wearing a t-shirt printed with the casket motif "Loved and Cherished" in blue, and the funeral directors had placed it by the flowers sent by my Grandma and Grand-Aunts and Uncles (the ones who gave us the plot to bury her). However, when the time came to leave after the service, I couldn't bring myself to leave the bear behind.

Since then, that bear has been a great comfort to me. It is weird for me, because I don't recall ever sleeping with a stuffed animal as a child, and, while I had a favorite blanket, I was very careful with it and rarely slept with it (true to my preservationist nature). In those first few hard hard weeks I slept with that bear often. My two favorite things to do were to put it in a headlock in the crook of my arm, or shove it almost all the way underneath me. It makes me feel less alone, and helps me fall asleep. The bear helped eliminate one of the strange physical manifestations of grief that we (and many other parents) experienced: the feeling of empty arms.

The feeling of empty arms is not just emotional. My longing for Leah left my arms with a physical sensation. They had held her, they knew what she felt like cradled close to my heart, and they had to give her up. My arms wanted Leah back. They ached.

Having that little bear was a poor substitute, but it was something.

I very rarely sleep with the little bear anymore. I keep it on my bedside table, in the laps of these build-a-bears that Jeff and I made when we were first dating.

Last night I had trouble sleeping, despite feeling exhausted. I felt so plagued by sadness. Earlier in the day I overheard some strangers in conversation, and one said "Happy June 1st" to the other. It hit me then: June has started, Leah's birthday is drawing near. I'm not ready.

Last night I was glad for my bear. It was good to have something, anything, to hold onto.

1 comment:

Katie said...

I'm so glad you have the Leah bear:)!