There is a huge, not-exactly-cute, stuffed bear that has been in the back of our closet since the day we moved into our house. This bear has pretty much always lived its life in closets. It's not the kind of thing that you have out on display for people to see.
But it has sentimental value.
And for the most part, I am not one to keep many things just for sentimental value. Even objects that used to belong to my children have ended up on yard sales. If one of them draw something at preschool or church, I rarely keep it unless it's somehow significant, and even then, those types of things aren't always safe from the trash.
I used to keep softballs from significant games. I had one from a no-hitter. I had one from a perfect game (against St. James ironically). I had the one when I pitched 10 innings in a district championship game. I had one when I struck out 16 batters in one game.
I don't know where any of them are now.
There used to be piles under my bed of things I kept from camps. I used to keep certificates from instrumental success (like state contests), and I even had certificates from college when I participated in student government.
I don't know where any of that stuff is now. Because I quit keeping that sort of thing.
Yet...there is just something about this big bear that lives in my closet. I can't get rid of it. And when the kids found it the other day, I almost panicked as I saw Caleb jump on top of it.
"No, you can't play with this! It's too special to mommy!"
You see, Josh and I had our first date at the State Fair in Sedalia, Missouri in August of 1996. We were just kids. I was 16 and he was 15. We walked hand-in-hand through the park, and even though I don't remember every detail, I remember quite clearly when we walked up to a "Make a basket, win a prize!" game that Josh just had to try.
What better way to impress a girl than to make a basket and win a prize?! Especially since it was those basketball skills that first caught my eye.
And he did. He took a few shots and won me this really big, purple teddy bear. I picked it out myself. It was the biggest prize I could find.
How was I to know the real prize was watching my husband shoot a basket for me back when he was 15-years-old.
So I just can't get rid of this bear. The poor thing will probably always have to sit on my closet floor. But I hope he knows how special he is. He's been a visible reminder of that first date. And I cherish it very much.
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