Bear Gone Missing

At some point on Saturday, Isabella's best buddy, Charlie the bear, went missing.

This is Charlie. He has been in Isabella's crib since the day we took her home from the hospital almost four years ago. He has spent every nap tucked under her arm. She often sleeps with him draped over her head. She kisses him goodbye before she heads out the door to preschool. She wheels him around in her stroller. She teaches him in her imaginary classroom in our living room.

Isabella, the twins, and I had gone on a walk around 11am. Isabella was riding her bike. She had taken armfuls of crap with her on the ride: jewelry, her binoculars, a flashlight, a canteen...and Charlie. She placed all of these things in her bike bag, which fits over her handlebars.

Usually, I place Charlie in her bike bag. This is because he just barely fits in the bag, and I almost always secure his front paws inside the bag, so that he has less of a chance of falling out.

But on Saturday, I didn't. The twins had spent the morning screaming, and a change of scenery was desperately needed, so we decided to go on a bike ride. I was busy loading the twins into their stroller, while Isabella stashed her things, including Charlie, in her bike bag. I strapped on her helmet, and we took our usual route around the neighborhood.

We stopped twice along the way: once to chat with a friend and her kids, and once so I could place a quarter I found on the ground inside her bag. We came home, gave the kids lunch, got them down for naps (or quiet time, in Isabella's case), and right afterward we left for a party at our friends' house.

We returned home at bedtime. Usually, Charlie is lying around in one of his usual spots: the kitchen counter, the sofa in the living room. On top of the gate at the bottom of the stairs. But we could not find him anywhere. We got the twins in bed, and then spent a good half an hour scouring the house for Charlie.

Once it became apparent that Charlie was not going to materialize anytime soon, I realized I needed to get Isabella to bed. She was already up way past her bedtime.

"Would you like to choose another friend to sleep with you tonight?"

"I only want Charlie!"

"Sometimes it's nice to cuddle with another buddy."

"I want Charlie!"

And then the great, heaving sobs started. Huge, from-the-belly sobs, which quite literally broke my heart.

"Where's Charlie????"

"I love Charlie and he loves me!"

"Charlie's looking for me!"

"Did someone take him?"

Both the hubs and I began to suspect that Charlie had fallen out of her bike bag during the walk, although I felt I would have noticed this if it had happen, because Isabella is always in front of me while on bike rides. So, just before we attempted to get her into bed, I ran our bike route, desperately scanning lawns and gutters to see if I could locate him.

When I returned home empty-handed, things took a turn for the worse. Isabella was borderline hysterical. She was in bed, but had no intention of sleeping. She had been up since 6:30am, and hadn't had a nap. She was exhausted. I climbed into bed with her. She cried quietly while I stroked her hair. She fell asleep with her body curled into my chest.

I extracted myself from her bed without disturbing her, went downstairs, and began scouring the Internet for Charlie replacements. The hubs took a flashlight and did his best peeping tom imitation, as he walked our bike route looking for Charlie. He wasn't out there. I immediately emailed our neighborhood's Yahoo group to alert the neighbors to keep an eye out for him.

I IM-ed the incredible Stacey, who had gone through a similar ordeal with her son's beloved "Harry" about a year ago, to ask for pointers as to how to deal with Isabella's deep sadness over her loss. She spent over an hour helping me search for replacement Charlies. We compared fur patterns, mouth and nose shapes, "old-style" Gund bears versus "new-style." She gave me some great tips: put up flyers, post on Facebook about finding a new Charlie, spread the word far and wide to see if anyone could help. She dropped whatever she was doing late on a Saturday night to help me. For this, I will always be grateful. Thank you, Stacey.

It was nearing midnight. The hubs and I were literally sick to our stomachs over this loss. I hadn't eaten dinner. I had to get up at 6am to run a 10K yesterday morning. We were exhausted and despondent. Charlie was just a stuffed bear, but he was everything to Isabella. If we couldn't find him, or convince her to accept a replacement, which, hey, had been returned to us bathed and looking brand new!, we would be wrecked.

The hubs was picking up toys in the dining room. He opened up Isabella's Thomas the Train puzzle box to pack away the puzzle she had put together earlier that day.

Inside was Charlie.

I was so happy I started crying. I grabbed Charlie, tip-toed upstairs and into Isabella's room, and placed him on her pillow. The next morning when she woke up, I went into her room as I always do, and she sat up with a huge smile on her face and Charlie in her arms.

"Mommy, while I was sleeping, I felt a little bit of fur, and it was Charlie! So I hugged him under my arm and went back to sleep."

Parents watch their children suffer through unimaginable horrors much worse than the loss of a stuffed animal. Isabella is a healthy, happy little girl, and I am thankful beyond measure for this.

But oh my god, it was literally killing me inside to watch her go through the emotions associated with losing Charlie.

I hope it's a long, long time before we have to head down a path like this again.

12 Responses to “Bear Gone Missing”

  1. # Blogger Mom24

    It brought back so many feelings reading this. Very thankful for your happy ending. I think until we went through this, I never could have understood how truly devastating it is. Buy a collar and an ID tag for Charlie. Although, shortly after getting Harry back, we left him at a restaurant--they never called, even though he had our name and number in two places on him. Grrrr!

    Again, hurray for happy endings. :) It was a pleasure to try and help.  

  2. # Blogger Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy)

    I don't think I took a breath while reading this. So very glad that Charlie was found (and that Mom24 was able to help). Love the idea of a collar and ID tags for our most special stuffed friends!  

  3. # Blogger In Due Time

    Must get a back up! :-) I sell lovies online, if you'll give me his tag information I'll keep an eye out if I come across one. I dont think I have one of him currently.

    So glad he was found.  

  4. # Blogger JM

    Ugh, poor thing! So glad Charlie made his miraculous reappearance :). My boys don't really have lovies, Skyler has a couple of plush dinosaurs that he has a particular attachment to but they have gone missing before and he didn't really notice. Hopefully Charlie learned his lesson and doesn't roam again in the near future.  

  5. # Blogger knit kristen

    I'm so glad you found him! And Isabella's reunion where she says she felt a bit of fur under her arm is SO SWEET I cried!  

  6. # Anonymous Mary

    This made me tear up!
    It's not what is lost but the strong emotions that accompany loss, hard enough for us grown-ups, and harder for us to see our little one go through it.
    Glad this story has a happy ending :)  

  7. # Blogger Rebecca

    Wow, this actually made me cry! Poor Isabella and poor you! Right now Lizzie is mostly attached to her binky. However the binky fairy will be visiting soon and that will be an adventure unto itself. On the stuffed animal side she switches between a few different animals and doesn't seem particularly attached to one of them. For awhile we thought we were going to have to go out and buy another "elephant" from Ikea just in case but then she moved on to "duck" and "kitty". If you can find a backup bear it would probably be wise to have him waiting in the wings!  

  8. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    I'm so glad you found him! Glad that he wasn't lost for good.  

  9. # Blogger Sunny

    Getting caught up finally!! I am so glad you found Charlie. A fear of this exact thing had me on the Internet a couple of months ago spending way too much money for a duplicate of my son's lovey (Sleep Dog). It's hiding in a closet in case of such an emergency.

    And I'm sorry to read things aren't getting much better with the twins. Two high needs toddlers, I can't even imagine. :/ Sending tons of prayers your way.  

  10. # Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog

    Oh hon, I KNOW That pain. We lost our beloved Pandy Bear a few years ago for an entire WEEK. The pain was almost worse for me than it was for Evan.  

  11. # Blogger Allison

    Oh I had my goatie and i lost him for a whole week. still among the worst weeks of my life. I was 6. i'm so glad you found him. oh god, just thinking about it with my oldest's "cozy blanket" or my youngest's "bear" makes me feel sick.  

  12. # Anonymous Stephanie

    I so know what that is like. I'm not sure anyone can really understand the sheer torture and panic of the missing lovey unless they have actually been though it. We thought we were safe because we bought not one but two bunnies (hid one, kept one). Somehow she lost them both while visiting family, but one was recovered on the grass outside. She had several nights without it, though, and it was sooo hard. Even now, she'll stuff him somewhere and we have to tear the house apart to find him. Wish she was as good at finding him as she is at losing him! GLAD Charlie is back, though! WHEW!  

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