Brian and Gavin have a very special little bear. This little bear has become the most important stuffed animal in our home. Yes, even over Brian's vast and beloved stuffed Angry Bird collection.
Two of these bears were given to Brian by the Child Life specialist in the hospital when he came to say goodbye to Gavin. She sweetly suggested that Brian whisper a secret into the two stuffed toys. A secret that would be shared only between him, Gavin and the two little bears. She said to give one bear to Gavin and keep the other. To this day, that secret remains with them.
It was hard to hold it together as Brian said goodbye to Gavin... kissed him for the last time...
...and then gave him his little bear.
When Gavin's bear came home with us after he died, Brian was concerned that he "forgot to bring it to Heaven." I had to explain to him a couple times that we don't bring anything with us to Heaven. "Can you believe that in Heaven you have every single thing you'd ever want or need? You don't need to bring toys - they have them! You don't need to bring clothes - you don't need them! You don't even need to bring food!" So far, Brian has been content with these answers. Ed and I take every question as they come and we let him set the pace for information. We've yet to explain cremation to him - where Gavin's body is hasn't seemed to cross his mind and we're not going to push it. Perhaps the fact that he tells us he often sees Gavin (and my Dad...and my Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop) is the reason why.
I also told him that Gavin would want his special bear to be close to Brian's special bear. We placed Gavin's bear in his memory box. Brian's bear has lived in the "Brian-Gavin room" (Gavin's old room which Brian moved into the day he died) - or in bed with Brian - since it came home. I'm not sure I realized just how special this little bear was until recently.
Brian and I have a strong connection with each other and he has always been very in tune with my emotions. Gavin was the same way. It can be a good and a bad thing! But it definitely is one of my motivators for remaining positive...which is never a bad thing. The last several months, though, we've been dealing with a very upsetting and difficult personal issue, on top of the usual "Gavin grief." And Brian has been affected by it as well. One morning, about a month ago, Brian walked downstairs carrying the little bear without saying a word. After breakfast, before getting ready to head out to catch the bus, he walked up to me and said...
"Mommy? I want to share my bear with you today. I'm going to put him right here next to Gavin's picture (which sits next to my computer on the kitchen island). If you miss me or miss Gavin today, you can look at the bear or hug it or kiss it and it will make you feel better!"
Every day - without fail - he brings that bear down for me in the morning. And then every night he collects it and brings it back to bed with him. It is the sweetest and most tender gesture. He just "knows."
Several weeks ago, Ed and I went to see Theresa Caputo - the "Long Island Medium" - in a huge stadium in Philadelphia. Of course we were going into the evening hoping and praying that we'd hear a message from Gavin. It would have been nice to hear from any of our deceased loved ones - but we really hoped to hear from Gavin the most. We didn't tell Brian about the show - or the medium - we just said we were going out on a date. All day I was thinking of all the things connected to Gavin that Theresa could possibly say so I would know it was him. I definitely thought that the numbers 5 and 7 would be what I would hear. I was sure of it. Five is a huge number for us. We were married in the 5th month of May... Darcy was delivered to Heaven in the 5th month of May after 5 days of labor... I held her for 5 hours before handing her over to go to the morgue... Gavin was 5 when he died... he had a febrile seizure that stopped his heart and was pronounced dead on the 5th day. That's a lot, isn't it? Wow. And 7 - Gavin would have just turned 7. Five and Seven would have been my signs that Gavin was there.
But just before we left for the show, Brian came running over to me.
"Mommy! Put the little bear in your purse! Then, if you start missing Gavin or missing me, you can open your purse and see the bear there."
It was the first time the bear had left our home since we came home from the hospital. I was stunned that he did that out of the blue.
The show started and the first two numbers out of Theresa Caputo's mouth?
The readings were for two other people - but I knew it was a sign that Gavin was there. But my true sign that Gavin is with us all the time? Brian. Brian stays connected to his brother in ways that we'll probably never know. I am sure Gavin prompted him to give me that bear to stash in my purse. That little traveling bear was better than getting a personal reading. I don't even know how to explain it any better than that.
What I think means the most to me is how willing Brian is to share that tiny bear. I know how much it means to him - and it was something so personal he shared with his brother. Yet he is so free with it - and knows just when others might need it the most.
I am not at all ashamed to admit that I have found myself picking up that little brown bear during the day and leaving a few tears on his soft fur. Brian was right - it really does make me feel a little better. He is a remarkably intuitive and sensitive child. I'm so honored I was trusted enough to be his Mom.