My dear friend and writer bud Diane lost her husband this summer. They were soul mates finding each other after several starter marriages went bust. Two amazing people each in their own right who found sweetness and LIFE and spent 20 years side-by-side. They rode his Harley, got tattoos, water skied, and made a home for children and grandchildren. Then cancer came along and the last couple of years were tough. We (the Chats) joined Diane and Wally’s family and friends at his memorial service and witnessed a man who was and is so loved. Then Mary, another of our writer buds, offered to make Diane and her family teddy bears out of pieces of Wally’s clothing.
Diane lined up Harley, Corona, and Marine Corp tee shirts alongside a rugby shirt, a few Hawaiian prints, and even some plaid golf shorts and asked the kids and grandkids to chose whichever item of clothing they were drawn to, the one connected with a memory. Then, Mary got to work.
See, Mary makes bears.
Bears and puppy dogs and other critters.
She makes them so you’ll have something from your loved one to hold.
This isn’t all Mary does–she makes sanitary pads for young girls in Africa who will miss school because there aren’t disposable feminine products available, or they can’t afford them anyway. She makes quilts for sick babies. She’s that kind of gal.
Here’s Wally’s Hawaiian print on a bear with a navy blue bow.
Here’s Wally’s rugby shirt turned puppy dog for a grandson–with a collar piece to boot.
Here’s another dog sporting plaid from Wally’s golf shorts.
She has seven more to make. Each adult child and each grandchild will have a bear or a dog to remember their dad/paps by. They get to hold a piece of him. They will no doubt be comforted in the days and years to come–all because Mary offered to make a bear.
Mary is like that–thoughtful, empathic, generous.
Perhaps you’ve lost someone you love.
Perhaps you’ve held onto articles of clothing, a favorite jacket or vest, something that links you to your loved one. Most likely your keepsakes, like so many of mine, are stored in chests, in the back of closets and boxes we keep under the bed.
Why not take these beloved items and do something with them?
Turn your missing into something tangible you get to touch.
Diane stood, amazed, when she saw her bears. The exhaustion lifted from her brow and the sorrow in her eyes gave way to light. It was as if she were giving a piece of Wally to the family they both so love. The plaid, the Hawaiian blue palm trees, the rugby blue and red are all parts of what made Wally who he is and how he will be cherished.
When we take our loss and so something with it–write a poem, tell a story, wear their dog tags as a necklace, make a bear–we make something new in us. They live on in this transformation, “reincarnation,” if you will.
We take our sorrow and turn it into something that offers comfort and connection.
Wally is now a bear–and a dog–and he’ll be tucked in at night, taken on vacation and get to play tea party with his granddaughters, and if you ask me, that’s exactly where he’d like to be.