“These are cardiac bears,” the lady with the cart explained to me in the hospital waiting area, holding out a black, stuffed bear. “They are designed for patients who have had open-heart surgery to hug when they cough, to help protect the sternum.”
“I need one for my dad!,” I said, embracing the insanely soft bear, its marble eyes and embroidered smile peered up at me from a nest of fuzzy fur.
It was my dad who had just had open-heart surgery, but I have to admit, it felt so nice to hold that teddy bear against my chest. How could it not do the same for my dad?
As childish as this might sound, the cardiac bear provided me some comfort during a time of worry and stress while waiting for my dad to come out of surgery.
Since then, the juxtaposition of teddy bears vs. real bears has been churning in my brain. There is such an extreme contrast – teddy bears are intended to provide comfort, to be cuddled and embraced, while real bears are often seen as vicious killers, to be feared and avoided.
The reality is, the sweet, smiling face of the cardiac bear mirrors what I see in real bears.
Their soulful eyes exude compassion and kindness.
They are playful and curious.
They have deep connections with their families.
If they could be embraced, I imagine they would be just as soft and cuddly as a teddy bear.
I consider myself lucky to have observed and photographed so many of these beautiful animals.
So what is the true nature of a bear? Well, who am I to decide!? I’m just a simple, arrogant human. In fact, one of the things I love most about bears (and all animals for that matter) is they don’t give a rat’s ass what we humans think of them. They are just bears being bears, and that makes them absolutely perfect!
I do know what they mean to me, however – they are gentle, peaceful, gregarious creatures who have the power to sooth the soul. No matter what is going on in my life, I am instantly calmed when I am blessed with a bear sighting, even when it’s the stuffed teddy variety.
Until next time, continue loving life and all things wild! 🙂