I don’t always sleep alone, and I haven’t for years.
In my memory, the first bear that kept me company during the night was a bear resembling Winnie the Pooh. He was the color of sand and wore a striped shirt that didn’t quite cover his belly. He was a gift from my Godfather; a man I had heard about but didn’t meet until years later on my wedding day.
Then I slept with “Michael,” a bear I named after my older brother. Michael was home from his army training and brought my sister and I each a small teddy bear. Michael had a string on the top of his head, and I often looped my finger through it, watching Michael dangle and dance while my Michael was probably marching in Germany. Teddy- bear-Michael wore a red sweater, and he was my comfort when I worried about an oral presentation in school or an upcoming test.
Now, I’m 35 years old, and still seek comfort and company in a teddy bear. This bear is lavender and holds a felt purple pillow to his tummy that proclaims I am the “#1 Mom.” (I think my mom deserves that distinction). My son and my mom gave me this bear to celebrate my first Mother’s Day. During the day, he rests on my bedside table. At night, he’s often in my arms.
My days are over-planned leaving me with no choice but to keep moving. At night though, things change. The house is quiet. I want to sleep and need to sleep, and yet I can’t always relax and let go of all my preoccupations. My little purple bear is my worry doll. He’ll worry for me and protect me during the night so that my mind and body may rest.
The bears change, the reasons for worry change, the need for a teddy bear remains.