The teddy bear in this picture is actually an important object. As worn as it has become over its 20 years of being with Brandi, it has a greater significance then you can see in this picture. Like Brandi’s teddy bear, Marlee also has something that she has held close to her heart for just as long, her Tigger stuffed animal. To them, these are comforts that have gotten them through the toughest of times.
Marlee remembers getting her Tigger from her MeMa for Christmas. It was her favorite gift under the tree that year. It didn’t have any nifty bells and whistles. It wasn’t fancy in anyway, but it was from her Grandma, and she loved it for that reason. Brandi also got her Teddy Bear from her MeMa. She loved that holding on to that bear as a child meant that she would never have to be a part from her grandma. They were connected through that bear. That is where the significance began.
Then there came the tornado that destroyed Marlee and Brandi’s childhood home when they were in Kindergarten. Their entire house was torn from above the family, who were all in the basement clinging to each other for protection. The only three things that survived that horrific event were Brandi’s Teddy Bear, Marlee’s Tigger, and of course the entire family of five. They had just survived the scariest thing they would probably ever have to go through, and they had their stuffed animals from their MeMa with them the entire time, giving them the comfort that they needed in those moments. To them, they were their guardian angels. From that day forward, those stuffed animals were a symbol that they would get through anything – God would never let anything bad ever happen to them again without his protection being over them. At that time, Brandi’s teddy bear and Marlee’s Tigger grew in significance even more.
Then there came the day when Marlee’s family had to say goodbye to their MeMa. She had suffered from Altiezemers for awhile, and after many years of struggling, she was finally sent to Heaven to be with God. Marlee remembers how hard the day of the funeral was. She had many regrets of lost time with her Grandma that she had wasted on other things, that now seemed unimportant. And she had happy memories that made losing her even harder, knowing that there would not be any more memories made with her grandma. So she took her Tigger and Brandi took her teddy bear to the funeral, and they held on to them so tightly. Those stuffed animals were a memory that they shared with their MeMa. Those stuffed animals were proof of their Grandma’s love for them. Those stuffed animals were a reminder of everything good that they had remembered about her. And on that day, the stuffed animals reached their highest level of significance.
Those two stuffed animals have been with Marlee and Brandi through everything. Breakups, surgeries, graduations, contests, the first day of college, funerals, the tornado, the loss of their grandma, and the loss of their childhood dog, Carmel. Those stuffed animals have felt laughs and have felt tears. They have been there for Marlee and Brandi through pretty much everything, and now after 20 years, they still stand. They are worn and have had to be stiched up quite a few times, but they still remain.
Marlee’s grandma knew that life was going to be hard and it was going to be sad, so she gave Marlee and Brandi a comfort to hold on to when times got tough. It was her way of telling them that they would always be okay. As long as they hugged that teddy bear or that Tigger, they would find peace and they would feel safe. She said that holding on to them was like holding on to her and everything else good in life. So when life got hard, or when life gets hard now, that’s what they do – they hold on to those stuffed animals – they hold on to their MeMa, and all things good, to get them through.
I hope all of you have that comfort. Life is tough and it can be scary at times. I just hope you all have that one thing that will give you peace when you need it the most.