Watching someone you love get older and change is hard. The obvious question comes to mind, how will you go on without them in your life? The time has come for our family to face a harsh reality: Fuzzy the Bear isn’t looking so good and probably doesn’t have much time left.
Fuzzy is the closest companion of our youngest child, Peter. Fuzzy has been a trusted and highly valued member of our family since Peter was nine months old and received him as a Christmas present from my husband’s nephew.
At first, Fuzzy was indeed Fuzzy. Fluffy even. He had a big plaid bow around his neck, and our little guy and him were inseparable. The bear was almost as big as Peter was. I loved the peaceful look on my child’s face as he would lay in his crib and cuddle and play with his friend.
I totally credit Fuzzy for allowing Peter to sleep through the night and deal with the stress of our family. Things can get pretty crazy here. We have gone through the constant ups and downs of having a child with special needs. The ongoing roller coaster of scary tests, scary behaviors, and scary diagnoses being considered and dismissed for our beautiful middle child, Lizzy, has been very difficult for my husband and me. I can only imagine how confusing it must be for both our sons to witness.
Peter was also speech-delayed and having Fuzzy to cuddle and hold made the difficult times a bit easier. Speech, occupational, and physical therapy sessions were a little more manageable if Fuzzy was there. I have to admit there have been plenty of times through the years where I have wished for my own Fuzzy.
Fuzzy has come with us on vacations, daily outings and even two hospital visits. Fuzzy proudly wore scrubs twice when Peter had to have some minor surgery at 11 months and again at 3. He has been returned late at night when left behind at grandma’s or lost in the car.
He was even with Peter when he started preschool at two until the school expelled the bear a few months later.
I’m told It was a pretty heated debate among the staff as to who was going to take Fuzzy from Peter the day it was decided that he would have to go it alone so he could learn how to play and communicate with the other toddlers in his speech-delayed class.
Fortunately for us the wonderful head teacher Miss Lara was willing to put up with the two weeks of Peter barely talking to her. The assistant teachers would laugh when Peter would come in all smiles and then just glare at his “once” beloved teacher.
Fuzzy has been washed more times that I can count. It’s not unusual for Peter to wait in the laundry room till his friend’s “bath” is over. It’s not unusual for me to secretly pray that the pillow case I use to wash Fuzzy in will once again protect his aging body from the rigors of the washing machine.
Fuzzy’s once fluffy yarn fur is now matted and looks more like a petri dish than a stuffed animal. The plaid bow that once adorned the bear’s neck is nothing more than a memory. But, I suspect that adds to his appeal.
The other day Peter came to my room, crying and saying Fuzzy was broken. I was a little nervous. How would my little guy cope without his dear friend? How could I manage with less sleep than I already get?
Now six, Peter is certainly better prepared to go it alone. Words that were hard to say are coming more easily. Our family is learning how to deal with the uncertainty of Lizzy’s special needs. I know Peter could go it alone if need be. He has other animals that would help comfort him as he goes to sleep. But, there is still only one Fuzzy.
I gently took Fuzzy in my hands and gave him a quick Dr. Mommy examination. I noticed that the only thing really broken about Fuzzy, besides the obvious wear and tear from six years of affection, was that his ear was very frayed from where my son fingers him as he lies down to hear a story and fall asleep at night.
“Peter, Fuzzy is not broken, he is just very loved.”
“Fuzzy is loved?”
“Yes honey, that’s all.”
He went to tell his brother his new found knowledge. “Tom, Fuzzy’s not broken, he is just loved”.
Of course the time is coming when Fuzzy will no longer be there, or even needed. But for now we will both cherish the time we have left. And I’m glad a stuffed animal is all it takes to make the great big world a little more manageable for one little boy.