One day Cactus said to his best friend, Bear, “Hey Bear, I’m feeling pretty glum.”
“Why’s that?” asked Bear.
“Well, Bear, it’s just that… everyone loves you. They come up to you and give you big hugs and hold your hand. All of our friends think I’m too prickly and don’t come close to me… I guess I’m feeling a little jealous,” whispered Cactus.
“Sweet Cactus,” started Bear, “do you want to know why you’ve been my best friend since we were young?”
“Because we grew up next door to each other and I give you shade when you’re feeling too hot from all that fur you have on you?” Cactus quickly answered.
Bear chuckled. “Sure, those are two awesome benefits of being your friend. But, Cactus, just because I’m furry and cuddly, doesn’t mean I want to be hugged and touched all the time. You’re the only one who has always asked if it’s okay with me to hug or hold my hand.”
“Oh…” Cactus responded, surprised by Bear’s answer.
“And, Cactus, even though some of our friends don’t come too close to you, you greet everyone with a smile. You’re a real true friend.”
“Wow, Bear,” began Cactus, “I guess I never thought being hugged all the time could be hard. I’m glad I’ve been asking you if it’s okay to hug you. I like to smile. I like being your best friend. I like that you hold my hand even though others are afraid to.”
Bear smiled. “I love you, Cactus. Remember what you told me when I was a cub and had trouble growing my fur, while your spines were growing in so fast? You said, ‘Bear, we’re all special in our own way and we’re always going to be friends no matter what!’”
“I said that?” asked Cactus.
“Yeah, you did! Cactus, it’s your turn to know that I will always hold your hand no matter what… with your permission of course!”