When my daughter was around one year old, she imprinted on a stuffed animal that became her best bud and another member of our family. A purple stuffed bear head and arms holding onto a small blanket started joining us on family outings, getting tucked in at night and making trips to the grocery store. We lovingly referred to her as “Bear.”
The sentence “where is Bear?” has no doubt come out of my mouth over a thousand times in the past three years. At home, at the park, at the store: “Where is Bear?” While there have been a few scares and close-calls, we’ve never lost Bear for more than an hour or so. She’s been on plane and train rides, to weddings, funerals and backyard barbecues, and we’ve always managed to get back home with Bear. Until last week, that is.
Our family of four (five, if you count Bear) had a short staycation before the summer ended. We stayed at a hotel and went to a waterpark the next day. Since we were in town, my husband and 18-month-old went home early for naptime and took our bags from our hotel stay with them. My almost-five-year-old daughter and I stayed at the waterpark. After a day filled with swimming, splashing and slides, the two of us left for home around 8 pm. Before hitting the road, I texted my husband asking him to make some macaroni and cheese for my daughter to have a quick dinner, and to also find Bear in our bags. He texted me back saying he was boiling the pasta but couldn’t find Bear. My heart sank. If Bear wasn’t in those bags, then where could she be?
I hoped my husband had simply overlooked the purple lovey. I drove home imagining myself walking through the garage door, opening a backpack pocket and pulling out Bear. This wasn’t the case. I walked in the house to see every pocket of the three bags we’d taken to the hotel were completely emptied, and Bear was nowhere to be found. I knew I’d seen Bear that morning at the hotel, but that was 12 hours ago.
Where Could She Be?
My husband called the hotel and was told to check back in the morning when someone from housekeeping could check the lost and found. My daughter and I were both in tears from exhaustion and disappointment. Luckily, she accepted a stuffed dog as a temporary replacement for Bear and headed to bed.
That night, I was filled with guilt as I tried to fall asleep. Why hadn’t I triple checked the hotel room before we left? Why hadn’t I kept better track of Bear? What if we never saw her again? Like I said, Bear really was like member of our family, and we’d lost her! I grabbed my phone and Googled a description of Bear, hoping there would be a replacement on eBay for less than $50. I was shocked to see several listings for Bear’s siblings for around $15! That gave me enough relief to fall asleep that night.
In the morning, I called the hotel. The housekeeping staff member put me on hold to search through their lost-and-found and I held my breath the entire time. She came back on the line and said Bear wasn’t there. I couldn’t believe it. Bear was really gone. I pulled up eBay and got ready to buy Bear the Second. Right before pushing “confirm purchase,” I saw it would take a week to receive the toy.
That Just Wouldn’t Do
I’d seen people post on Facebook asking for replacements to a lost lovey before, but Bear was five years old. We’d received her as a present when my daughter was first born. I figured the chances were slim that someone would have the same item, but it was worth a shot. I posted the eBay picture of the bear I was about to buy to two Facebook mom groups I’m part of and hoped it’d reach SOMEONE with the same purple bear. Within minutes, I had several women saying they had the exact bear I was looking for, and they’d be happy to give it to me for free! A wave of relief washed over me.
A kind woman met me at a nearby store and brought Bear the Second with her. Seeing the replacement Bear truly was like seeing and old friend, even though it’d been less that 48 hours. I brought Bear the Second home to my daughter and explained to her that this was a new Bear. She immediately looked at Bear the Second and said, “That’s not Bear.” Over the past few days, she’s quickly come around to Bear the Second, and I’m sleeping easy knowing there are at least five more replacement Bears in Colorado Springs.