By Daris Howard
Special to The PREVIEW
Trissa stomped into our bedroom. “Make her leave Toby alone!”
Toby was Trissa’s special Teddy bear. He was a perfect size and very soft. But, most importantly, he only had one eye. Trissa had endured many eye surgeries when she was young and was very attached to her one-eyed bear.
I pulled Trissa up close to me. “Who would be bothering Toby?” I asked. “Everybody knows he’s your bear.”
“It’s Jenna,” she complained. “She keeps taking him out of my room and won’t give him back.”
I smiled. Jenna was only 2 years old, and was just at that age where she thought everything belonged to her. She couldn’t understand why Toby should be any different.
What I didn’t understand was why Jenna would want him. He was worn from the constant love he had received and given over the years. We had many stuffed animals that were far nicer and newer.
I chose the best one from our stuffed animal stash, and went with Trissa to try to persuade Jenna to relinquish her claim on Toby.
I held it out to her. “Here, Sweety. Why don’t you take this one and give Toby back to Trissa?”
In response, Jenna hid Toby behind her back to keep him away from us. No amount of coaxing or bribing could persuade her to give him up. Finally, Trissa grabbed Toby from Jenna and took off running to her room with Jenna squealing close behind.
This same scene occurred day after day, until a few months later. Jenna became very sick and had a high fever. We took her to the doctor, and he told us she had a bad infection. He prescribed a strong antibiotic for her. But each time we gave her the medicine, she would immediately throw it up. We called the doctor, and he told us to keep trying for 24 hours, but if she still couldn’t keep it down by then, we should bring her in.
But after a few hours of cuddling her, listening to her breathe harder and harder, and watching her fever continue to climb, we decided we weren’t going to wait. At the hospital they immediately put her on an IV with the antibiotic flowing in, and an intense battle began for her life. The doctor told me that I was lucky that I didn’t wait longer, but he was still concerned whether we had come in time.
I stayed up the whole night, checking on her, helping to cool her with ice packs and comforting her. I was exhausted the next morning when the rest of the family came for a visit. Jenna was still breathing hard, but lay otherwise motionless on the big bed. It was hard for the family to see her little body with the many tubes and wires attached to her.
Trissa went over and gently placed Toby next to her. Jenna’s eyes fluttered open, and she smiled a weak smile of recognition. Trissa smiled in return.
“He’ll help you get better,” she said to her little sister.
Jenna’s fever finally broke, and the day eventually arrived when, still pale and weak, she was able to return home. She continued to snuggle Toby as she grew stronger every day. Once she had finally recovered completely, I felt it was time to broach the subject of giving Toby back to Trissa. But when I did, Jenna just held him tighter.
Trissa heard me and came over to us. “Don’t worry about it, Dad. When Jenna was really sick, I promised God that if he would help her get better, I would never ask for Toby back again.”
I smiled. Toby, the one-eyed bear who had become a symbol of Trissa’s courage to face the challenges of surgery, now became the symbol of her love for her little sister, and now he would also watch over a second little girl and help her through her challenges.
By Daris Howard