Bears & Blessings


If you've looked around this blog at all, you probably know a little something about the bears I began knitting after Kristen died. The knitting itself was very therapeutic for me, and I wanted to turn it into something that could reach out to others. My initial plan was to make bears to send to the chaplain at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, who would in turn send them to newly bereaved parents. I found, however, that the list of bereaved parents that fall within (or near) my own circle of friends and acquaintances is sadly much longer than I ever imagined. I’ve sent out some bears on my own (and have a few more that I need to send), but I still haven’t sent a single bear to CMH. As sweet and simple as these bears are, they do take time to make!

Emily and I began a discussion after Kristen’s birthday last year about how we could honor Kristen’s memory and reach out to others at the same time. As a way to do just that, I invited several friends to join us in making bears!

We are meeting as a group one Saturday each month (January to April) to knit and assemble as many bears as we can. We will then box up all the bears and deliver them to CMH in time for Kristen’s 3rd birthday on May 7, 2012.

Our first session was a week ago, and I have to say that I was completely overwhelmed with the wonderful response.  Two dozen people gave up part of their Saturday to help with making bears.  A few were already knitters and went right to work on knitting bear parts.  Those who don't knit jumped in with rolling skeins of yarn into center-pull balls.  Still others learned how to seam garter stitch and stuffed arms, legs and bear bodies.  Some worked on scarves of all colors and styles.  One even offered to sew gift bags!  The group ranged in age from 2 to 79.  

I'd like to share a story about that 2 year-old.

Little "Miss M" has a special place in my heart.  She shares Kristen's birthday.  In fact, the girls were born within a couple hours of each other to moms who went to high school together (and who both know the pain of losing a child).  While I almost always think of Kristen as a baby, this special little friend gives me a glimpse of how big Kristen might be if she were still here.  It's a difficult thing to explain, yet another example of where joy and sorrow coexist.

I took a few pictures during our first bear-making session, but the scene I didn't capture with my camera is forever etched in my mind:  I watched this sweet 2 year-old poke stuffing into a bear as her momma held it for her.  She would quietly ask me if the bear needed more stuffing.  I'd tell her, "just a little more," and she would add some, then we'd check it again.  Precious, precious stuff.

Watching moms and daughters working alongside one another, enjoying the wonderful fellowship of dear friends, and knowing that Kristen was being remembered so sweetly most certainly blessed me that day, and continues to do so.