The Return of Bear Bear: How My Instagram Pic Reunited a Kid with Her Stuffed BFF

Sunday, August 6, 2017

I am 33 years old (as of yesterday!), & I still sleep with a teddy bear every night. His name is Jolly, & I've had him since I was 3 years old. You can see him in the photo above, sitting on my bed.

I don't sleep with Jolly because I need to - I can sleep just fine without him - but I prefer to. Just as some people hold onto a pillow at night, Jolly is the perfect size for me to clutch as I fall asleep. Plus, he's cute. When I was a kid, I called him my brother. (Any other only nerdy children out there? Holler.)

When I was a kid, my mom & I traveled to Disney World... & I accidentally left Jolly in our hotel room. I will never forget the devastation I felt when I realized I'd forgotten him, confined him to some dusty lost-and-found room until he was inevitably thrown out like trash; I sobbed for days. Conversely, I will also never forget the joy I felt, a week later, when Jolly arrived by mail, sent home by some kind member of the hotel's housekeeping staff.

About a week ago, I was on a walk around my neighborhood when I spotted a small, stuffed bear wearing a tutu, wedged into a chain-link fence so that it was propped upright like a tiny, welcoming ambassador. I snapped of a photo of it & posted it to Instagram, just a cute little find to share with the world:

A couple hours later, I got an Instagram DM from Emma, who lives on my street & is a barista at my favorite coffee shop. "Someone is looking for this bear!!!" she wrote, accompanied by a screencap of a post in our neighborhood watch Facebook group.


I had inadvertently located a lost Bear Bear, some kid's beloved stuffed friend! Another resident had already posted a link to my Instagram photo in response to this parent's plea, but I followed up with the location of said stuffed friend (which I got by checking out the photo's metadata - thanks, Apple, for being both creepy & helpful). I crossed my fingers that Bear Bear was still there & waited to see if the original poster would respond with an update.

When I checked back the next day, Bear Bear had been retrieved, & its owner posted to the group with a note & a photo: Thank you so much Kate and everyone for your help. We have bear bear safely home! ❤️"

I wish you could see how adorable & happy this little kiddo looks, but far be it from me to be the jerk who shares a photo of somebody else's kid on my blog. Still, this should give you a bit of a feel for how freaking cute their reunion was. A day or so later, the original poster left a comment on my original Instagram photo, too: 
thank you so much for posting this!! This bear was given to my daughter on the day she was born and I was just sick when we thought it was gone forever. To tack on to your post- so maybe the bear was there as a friendly ambassador, but also as a sign that even in a place with a reputation for crime and misfortune, there are still good neighbors and great things happening all the time :)
I just can't express how happy it makes me to have been able to facilitate this reunion. May Bear Bear live a long & happy bear-life with this happy munchkin. Jolly & I wish you lots of joy together! 

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