The Magical, Musical Baby Bear

What Baby Bear might have looked like

A Magical Lovey by C. C. Payne

An older lady in the church choir had given my mother the yellow teddy bear near the end of her pregnancy. So “Baby Bear,” as we came to call him, occupied my crib even before I did. Once I was placed in the crib too, Baby Bear and I were fast friends.

Baby Bear’s appearance was unremarkable. He looked neither happy nor sad with his round, plastic black eyes. His fur wasn’t especially soft and he wasn’t especially huggable. BUT! Baby Bear held a magical secret: There was a music box in his belly, which played Brahms Lullaby! My mother wound the key on Baby Bear’s backside nightly, after placing me in the crib. As a result, I was never alone in the dark—or anywhere else—I dragged Baby Bear everywhere, I’m told.

C. C. Payne as a child

When my parents divorced, however, Baby Bear was packed up, not to be seen again…for twenty years. My daughter, Laurel Grace, was two years old when my mother found Baby Bear and brought him to our house as a gift for Laurel. I bit my lip nervously as my mother presented her gift—by then, Baby Bear was missing one eye; his red felt tongue had come halfway unglued at the top and hung pitifully; his fur was faded, patchy and thread-bare in places. Even so, my mother wound the key on his bottom and Brahms Lullabye played as she handed the bear to Laurel.

Laurel Grace

I waited for Laurel to crinkle her nose at what had to be the ugliest stuffed animal she had ever laid eyes on. But instead, Laurel clutched Baby Bear to her chest as if he was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. To my shock and amazement, Baby Bear was instantly Laurel Grace’s favorite lovey, too.

Perhaps J. K. Rowling sums it up best: “Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) Yes, music is magic. Music bypasses the brain and reaches straight into the heart. It overcomes ugliness with its beauty. Music fills darkness and silence with light and song. Music assures us that we aren’t alone—in the world, in the dark, in our feelings. And Baby Bear did all of that.

Author C. C. Payne

Years later, unfortunately, a hotel maid missed Baby Bear’s magic and threw him away as she straightened our room one morning. I understood—by then, he definitely looked like he belonged in the trash. There were a lot of tears over Baby Bear and, of course, I tried desperately to get him back. Even after our vacation, I was still trying. My letters ultimately reached the owner of the hotel, who responded with a handwritten two page letter about his own lost lovey, conveying empathy and compassion, and offering his sincerest apologies—yes, even hotel moguls have loveys!

Although we don’t have Baby Bear anymore, we’ll always have Brahms Lullabye, the song that remembers a plain yellow teddy bear who comforted and kept us in the dark.

C. C. Payneis the hopeful, humorous, distinctly Southern middle grade author ofThe Thing About Leftovers; Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom & the Challenges of Bad Hair, and Something to Sing About. She says, “Problems and fears can grow to monstrous proportions when left alone in the dark–I know from experience. Writing is my attempt to bring problems and fears out into the light, cutting them down to size–and sometimes, even laying them to rest. So far, I’ve written about fear, faith, friendship, bullying, death, divorce and blended families.” To learn more, visit www.ccpayne.net

Thank you, C. C. Payne, for sharing your childhood lovey story, as well as your heartfelt novels with the world.

 

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