Yesterday, a video capturing a tender if somewhat eerie moment surfaced on Reddit, allegedly showing a woman listening to the voice of her late husband emanating from a Build-A-Bear. The title of the post suggests that she was married to her husband for 32 years before he died of cancer, and the bear was a gift to her from her children.
Surprisingly, this isn't the first (or second or even third) instance of the living using technology to preserve the memory of a dead loved one in a stuffed animal.
In December, an woman surprised her nieces with a Build-A-Bear equipped with the voice and laugh of their grandfather who died of a stroke. When two of a girl's best friends each lost a parent, she gifted each of them a bear with the voices of their parents for their birthdays this autumn. While he was still alive, a man got his girlfriend a toy monkey with his voice in it for her birthday. She reportedly received it after his death. And in June of last year, a woman repaired a stuffed bear with a recording of her grandmother's late husband who died of lung cancer. The message said, "You're the best girl in the world for me."
And users shared similar stories in the Reddit thread, signalling that this isn't just an isolated instance of a Black Mirror-like coping mechanism — many are apparently implanting humble stuffed animals with reminders of their loved ones. From Reddit:
My dad just passed away yesterday morning after a 2 year battle with lung cancer. I did the same thing and they are precious to me. You can download them to Google Drive so that they will be on all your phones. My fiancee also got me a bear like this when my mum passed and recorded the voicemails she left me into them. I have "I love you sweetie" and a very happy toned "I love you, call me!"
I made build a bears for my children, and had their grandmother record herself saying that she loved them. This was about a month before brain cancer took her. She was sick, so her voice doesn't sound like it used to, but it's still her. The kids sleep with them every night, and every once in a while, it makes my husband or I cry, to hear her. I don't regret it at all though.
I currently work at a Build a Bear in England and we've had a few sad stories come through. One that comes to mind often is a couple wanting to put there 5 day old daughters ashes inside a Bear. I helped them chose the Bear they wanted but when it came to stuff the Bear I had to get a manager to do it. I found it too hard and didn't want to mess it up for them, despite having worked there for a few months and stuffing 100s of bears. You sometimes forget that not everyone has a happy story that has led them to your store.
My cousin got us Siberian tigers (my grandpas favourite) with a voice recording of him from a voicemail saying 'hey its pops, I'll see you soon, love ya'
He was the first grandparent I've lost (and only, since this happened a month ago), and it was really amazing. I don't press it often because I don't want to kill it, but I do it when I need a little pick me up or I'm feeling sad.
Tl;dr- don't delete voicemails, ever.
There's a video of my grandma singing "You are my sunshine" while she was in the hospital before she died last October. I want to put the audio in a build a bear, but I'm not strong enough yet.
While such mementos of the dead may seem strange now, one day they might be as common as an urn on the mantel.