A little boy who is hospitalized befriends a little patient who is afraid of the dark and gives her his teddy bear — but one day he finds her gone.
Mikey was seven when he ended up in the hospital. He felt very sick at school, and when they took him to the nurse, she looked very worried indeed and called Mikey’s mom.
Mikey’s mom took him to the hospital and there he was rushed straight into surgery. Something Mikey didn’t know called an appendix had burst. That night he woke to find his mother by his side, holding his hand.
He liked that. His mom was a big-time lawyer and she often didn’t have a lot of time to hold his hand. “Mom,” he whispered. “Can we go home now?”
His mom shook her head and told him he’d have to stay a few days. “But mom!” he protested. “I NEED Mr. Squiggles!”
Mr. Squiggles was Mikey’s secret weapon against the dark, and he couldn’t imagine sleeping without him. His grandmother had given him Mr. Squiggles when he was four.
That was when Mikey’s dad left and he started being afraid of the things that hid in the shadows at the bottom of his bed. His grandmother had stayed with them for two whole months to help his mom, and she’s helped Mickey a lot too.
“This is Mr. Squiggles,” Gran had said, holding up a disreputable-looking teddy with a wonky ear and only one eye. “He used to belong to your mom, but now I think you need him more. He’s a special bear, a grizzly bear, and you know how fierce they are. He fights nightmares and bad things and shadows under the beds and he eats them all up.”
His grandmother patted Mr. Squiggles’ fat tummy. “See how fat he is?”
So that night, Mikey had slept with Mr. Squiggles on his pillow. He woke under Mr. Squiggles’ piratical gaze. No shadows, and no nightmares!
After that, Mikey and Mr. Squiggles were inseparable after dark. Now Mikey was threatened with a night without Mr. Squiggles. His mom said, “I got you your favorite Spiderman pajamas. And…” With a smile, she held up Mr. Squiggles. “Gran called to remind me.”
Mikey gave Mr. Squiggles a quick and manly hug and tucked him under the covers. He felt a lot safer now!
“Mom, how long do I have to stay?” he asked.
“Honey,” his mom said gently. “The doctors say that you may have an infection so you’ll be here until they are sure you’re OK.”
The doctors were right. That night, Mikey had a terrible fever, and the next few days were hazy. Day and night were the same to him as he battled the fever, and sometimes he heard someone crying.
He thought it was his mom, but on the third day, he saw that the sobbing came from someone on the bed next to his. “He tried to sit up, but he was too weak. “Hey,” he whispered. “Are you OK?”
The person stopped crying abruptly and a soft voice asked fearfully, “Are you the boogeyman?”
“No!” Mikey said firmly. “I’m Mikey. Who are you?”
“I’m Didi,” the voice said.
“Why are you crying?” Mikey asked.
“I’m afraid,” Didi whispered. “It’s dark.”
Mikey said, “It’s not that dark! It’s never really dark here in the hospital you know!”
“The boogeyman hides in the shadows,” Didi said. “He’s going to get me. My sister said so. Aren’t you afraid too?”
Mikey could tell from her voice that she was very young. “I tell you what,” Mikey said. “I’ll lend you Mr. Squiggles. He’s not just a bear, he’s a grizzly, and you know how fierce those are!”
He made a growling sound and was rewarded with a giggle from the next bed. He continued, “He fights nightmares and bad things and shadows under the beds and he eats them all up.”
“You’re so lucky!” Didi said enviously. “My Barbie is afraid and she cries!”
“I tell you what,” Mickey said. “I’ll LEND you Mr. Squiggles while you’re here, OK?”
An act of kindness is always rewarded.
“But…” Didi said. “What about you? Won’t YOU be scared?”
“No,” Mikey said. “I’m seven, you know! Besides, Mr. Squiggles will keep me safe anyway!”
Mikey sat up carefully and the stitches at his side twinged. He put his feet on the cold floor and carefully shuffled over to Didi’s bed, Mr. Squiggles in hand. In the half-light, he saw Did’s big eyes and a mop of tousled curls. Didi was tiny! She must be four or five!
“Here you go,” Mikey said as he handed over his beloved Mr. Squiggles. Didi took him reverently and immediately hugged him.
“Thank you,” she whispered. Mr. Squiggles was hard at work because Mikey didn’t hear a sound from Didi for the rest of the night, or the next two nights.
The two children whiled away the slow time in the hospital talking. Mikey learned that Didi was the youngest of five children, all girls, and that their mom was a stay-at-home mother.
“My mom works ALL the time,” Mikey said enviously. “And I don’t have any sisters or brothers or anything.” Didi was sad about his mom, but she assured him he wasn’t missing anything by not having sisters.
Four days later, an orderly came around to fetch Mikey for some tests and when he came back, Didi was gone. Her bed was empty and sitting there in all his splendor was Mr. Squiggles.
There was a note pinned to his fur. The note was addressed to Mikey and said that Didi was going home, and thanked him for the loan of the bear.
“I know Didi would love to stay in touch, so here is my number so your mom can arrange a playdate. Thank you, Mikey, for your kindness to my little daughter!”
The note was signed, “Didi’s Mom.” At the bottom of the paper was a small drawing that showed Mikey and Didi and Mr. Squiggles looking rather scary with big sharp teeth. Didi’s work, of course.
Mikey gave the note to his mom and she promised they’d visit Didi as soon as he was well enough. By the end of the week, Mikey had a clean bill of health and he went home too.
He kept asking his mom when she was going to call Didi’s mother, but she was always so busy! As soon as Mikey was back home, his mom started working as hard as ever.
“Please, mom!” Mikey said. “Just one phone call. I want to know how Didi is!”
So his mom called Did’s mom and apparently, the conversation went so well that they were invited to a barbecue at their house that Sunday.
“Mikey!” Didi screamed, as soon as she saw him. “You’re here!” She threw herself at Mickey and hugged him which was very embarrassing, especially because there were a lot of girls watching, pretty girls too.
It was a wonderful day. Didi’s mom and Mikey’s mom got on really well, like best friends! From then on, Mikey and his mom started spending a lot of time with Didi’s family.
Mikey’s mom met Didi’s uncle at a birthday party, and the two started dating. Mikey’s mom was spending a lot less time at work, and a lot more time with Mikey and looking a lot happier!
Privately, Mikey thought it was all Mr. Squiggles’ doing, and when his grandmother came to visit, he told her so. “I told you he was a special bear!” his grandmother said. “Almost as special as you!”
What can we learn from this story?
An act of kindness is always rewarded. Mikey’s kindness to Didi was rewarded with her friendship, and it changed his life for the better.
Our children need us more than expensive toys or fancy electronics. Mikey’s mom learned that being a good mom was about more than just bringing home a lot of money.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a nurse who adopts a tiny baby girl whose family abandons her at the hospital because she was born with health issues.
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