The Bear, Two Years Later


Theo has been sick for several days and spent quite a bit of time in the master bedroom, watching tv. Everything was fairly low key with his illness, until he said the words “Mommy, I barfed.” He held his arms away from his body, indicating his now-soiled clothes. And I needed to strip the bed.

Between the two pillows of the king-sized bed is a small “collection” of stuff. A shawl I wear while I’m nursing on colder nights. A burp cloth. My water bottle, keeping it within easy reach. And a stuffed bear.

The stuffed bear I bought when I was pregnant with Iris, as a gift to her. It was about the only thing I bought her. After losing her, I clutched that bear every night, as if holding the bear could replace holding a baby.

I named the bear Suzanne (Suzy) after the nurse who was with me when I delivered Iris, but I never call the bear Suzy. In my head, I call the bear “Iris.” Always have. I resisted this for a long time, because it hurt too much and furthered that “replacement” feeling. But now as the bear snuggles against the crook of my body, no other name will do.

After two years of being clutched during the worst of my nightmares and absorbing her own weight in tears, the shape of the bear has changed. She is much flatter, crushed under the intensity of my grief. She was once endlessly soft, but now has lost the fluff and feeling of a new stuffed animal. Not exactly careworn yet, but showing unmistakable signs of being an object of comfort.