The Bear Project

My Great-Aunt Pearl tried to teach me how to knit when I was 8 or 9 years old.  It didn't go very well at that time, which was no reflection on Aunt Pearl (she was an AMAZING lady and avid knitter, crocheter and quilter).  I just didn't have the patience at that age to stick with it long enough to figure it out.  As a way of dealing with the death of not only my infant daughter, but my mother as well, I took a knitting class with a friend through our local recreation commission.  It gave my mind something else to focus on for a time, and it gave my fingers something to do.  I can't tell you how many days I just felt restless and out of sorts.  Being able to sit down and knit for a while seemed to at least give me a small break from the reels of "movies" that seemed to play endlessly in my head.

I made a lot of dishcloths and a couple of scarves...and then I found a pattern for a little stuffed bear.  As I read in Psalm 68:19 about God bearing our burdens, I knew that a bear would be just the right reminder.

The journey we began in August 2009 was certainly never in our plans.  It was a detour we didn't expect, one we definitely didn't want to take, but it was only a detour in our eyes.  It's part of a greater story that will only unfold fully for us when we get to heaven.  I wanted to do something for other parents who find themselves on a journey like ours.

In February 2010, I spoke with one of the chaplains at Children's Mercy Hospital, the same hospital where Kristen had her surgery. She said they would be glad to distribute the bears to families who had lost a child. (They do an amazing job of staying in contact with bereaved families every few months. We've received beautiful notes from some of the nursing staff and priceless memory items as well.)

My dear sister, Melody, (okay, she was Will's sister first, but she's been mine for nearly 20 years now!) started her own graphics design business and graciously worked with me to create a logo. As we were brainstorming ideas for names one afternoon at my kitchen table, I said, "Piece of my Heart." Mel was writing as I was talking and said, "P-E-A-C-E, right?" I said, "Actually, I was thinking P-I-E-C-E, but I like that it could be both!" When Kristen died, a piece of my heart went with her. I know that piece will be put back one day, but in the meantime, God has granted me a peace that only He can.

What can anyone do to ease a parent's pain of losing a child?  In my experience, not much.  There are no words that are adequate.  Being present in their lives to lend whatever support they do need is very helpful, but the pain can only be soothed by the love of our Heavenly Father.  If I could, however, use a little bear to reach out to a hurting family and let them know that someone cares, I would.  More importantly, I would let them know that God cares.  That was the point at which this blog became so very important to me.  Prior to that, it was just a place where I could express my thoughts and chronicle my very personal journey.  I was the only one who had access, so the thought of opening it up to the world was a little overwhelming at first.  However, if sharing myself and what I've experienced through my relationship with Jesus Christ will further God's kingdom in any way, I'll do it.  The address of this blog is included in a note that accompanies each bear.

What began as "The Bear Project" later grew into "Peace of my Heart."