When I was just turned four on my birthday I remember receiving my first ever teddy bear which was no doubt the most favourite and precious toy I had as a child. I remember waking up to my mother beside my bed with the biggest smile on her face,
“Wake up, wake up” she said “come and see the big surprise in the kitchen”. Slowly getting out of bed, she held my hand and led me out the door where I was greeted with an enormous bear hug from my dad standing in the most colorful balloon-filled living room ever.
“Happy Birthday Lalyn” my parents both sang, the past few days before that I knew they were planning the celebration, and just like every mischievous toddler, I spent a whole week searching the house high and low for ballon packets or presents that may have been hidden, hoping that no one had forgotten about me. I sure wasn’t disappointed.
My mother sat next to me cradling my baby sister, Hallena, or as I called her ‘little chubby cheeks’.
Hallena was born just a few days before my birthday, and in some ways it felt like I also had the gift of a little sister to play with. I noticed one hand behind my mum’s back and thought, finally, the moment I’ve been waiting for. I closed my eyes tightly as the gift was placed in my hands. ‘Hmm, something soft and fluffy’, I opened my eyes, looked down and saw the most adorable little teddy bear ever.
It was a simple brown bear with a little green bow tie, black buttoned nose and shiny brown bead eyes. I couldn’t recall exactly how he got his name, but we always called him Byron Bear. I loved the little bear instantly and it turned out I wasn’t the only one. Whenever Hallena couldn’t sleep I would try putting Byron near her in her cot, and just like magic, she’d sleep like a rock. From then on I would let her sleep with the bear every night, and he was mine during the day. Byron was important to both of us at that age, he was even there when Hallena was in the hospital.
It wasn’t until a few weeks after my sister was born before we noticed a few things were off. She started to have trouble breathing and had noticeably weak muscles and could barely move on her own. Doctors explained she had some kind of complication that I never really understood. Not only was it hard for my parents to explain medical terms to a four year old but it was heartbreaking for my family to take it in. It got to the point where she had to stay in hospital full time, we moved to a special home for families with sick children, which was closer to her hospital. Byron was always there to beside her at night, her favourite little friend. I had practically given her full ownership of the bear since I knew she needed him the most. Mum and I could swear we saw a little curl of a smile forming on her lips whenever she sees him and for her that would have been .
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