Nearly ten years before Josie was killed, we had swapped bedrooms for a time. In that process, a very special necklace my mother had given me for my 20th birthday became lost. For years, I had blamed Josie for misplacing it amidst her “clutter.” For years, I grieved the loss of my very special necklace.
It was a silver bear pendant—signifying strength and confidence in many Native American cultures. I rarely wore jewelry (not even a wedding ring), but I wore this necklace religiously. It was a constant reminder to me of the inner-strength I knew I possessed; it also helped remind me of the confidence my mother had in me to overcome hard things.
In time, I learned to let go of my grief over the lost bear. My daughter’s feelings were by far more precious than any material possession. However, over the years, I would occasionally remind her of how she had lost my special bear—partially as a joke, but also in lament that I no longer had it to rub between my fingers when feeling sad or distressed. Josie was a very wise soul; she understood the double meaning of my joke, and she felt badly. I know she would have done anything to help me get my bear back…
Just a few days before her funeral, as I was digging through some things in my bathroom drawer, my little silver bear appeared. 10 years had gone by, and I had literally scoured every nook and cranny of our house looking for him… My heart suddenly burst with emotion—I had just received another of Father’s very tender mercies.
The necklace, now, had renewed meaning as I strung it around my neck. With its long chain, the weight would soon become a constant reassurance to my battered heart that Josie was forever near. As I gently rubbed the tarnished silver bear between my fingers, her joy was apparent… Not only had she recovered the bear she was accused of loosing so long ago, but now it would provide me an added measure of comfort and strength— for certainly I would be needing it!
The silver bear would hang around my neck for nearly two years after the rediscovery. I was so very careful not to lose him again… Then, one terribly misfortunate day, as I was enjoying the beautiful spring riding up at Powderhorn, he somehow broke free of his chain. I was devastated. Searching was useless—I had been all over the mountain by the time I realized. It would be like finding a needle in a haystack at that point; maybe I would try and search for it after the spring thaw.
Feeling defeated in every way, I eventually found a replacement for my beloved bear… It was a small pewter rose that had belonged to Josie. Though it did not carry the same special significance as the bear—it was hers, nonetheless. It was the best I could do.
The rose was not smooth as the silver bear had been, and every time I rubbed it between my fingers I would lament my lost bear… I tried to comfort myself with the memory of how the bear had returned to me, and that that was enough—just to know Josie had a hand in it.
One morning, as I knelt at the foot of my bed weeping and praying, I carefully held in my hands the special “Home Is Where My Mom Is…” teddy bear that she had given me. Sometimes, when the hurt is almost more than I can withstand, I hug my teddy. Always, I find a measure of comfort in doing so.
On this occasion, as I lifted my now wet face from the blankets where it lay sobbing, I carefully studied this miraculous little bear. Out of nowhere, it dawned on me that she had little roses embroidered on her apron and a rose ribbon by her ear that looked just like the one hanging around my neck! I immediately brought the pewter rose next to my teddy’s roses to compare… They were almost identical in design.
How my heart soared at this discovery! And, oh, how the tears flowed down my already soaked face… All I could think was, “Josie, I love you too,” and, “Father, thank you!!!” Now, even though I still miss my silver bear very much, I feel doubly blessed to have been graced with yet another of God’s tender mercies. His love for me is ever apparent, and Josie’s message that, “Home Is Where My Mom Is…,” could not have hit home any harder!