When I consider the thing that has shaped my childhood the most - an object which provides me with such resplendent, immediate comfort - I think of my teddy bear, Herbert. I received him when I was five; upon seeing him for the first time, I was immediately taken to him. His fluffy, brown fur was a feature I often lost myself in, and his large, black, beady eyes looked at me with a solace and a peacefulness that I find hard to replicate elsewhere. The brown string across his lips curled up in a friendly smile, as if to reassure me that, no matter how much wear and tear he encountered over the years, he would be just fine.
I took Herbert everywhere with me; his arms and legs outstretched in that spread-eagle way teddies often are, he provided me with incredible solace and companionship. His legs outstretched in that manner made him easy to sit up in places, and his raised arms beckoned me in for a hug every single time. Whether I was at school or at home, Herbert was always waiting for me. During thunderstorms, the rain on the window would be reflected in his face, as he smiled back at it - it was clear that no storm would faze Herbert. Seeing his stoic face weathering the storm made me feel as though I could; suffice to say, that bear taught me to be brave.
Herbert has received many operations over the years; from restuffing to restitching and everything in between, there are very few pieces of him left that remain of the bear that I was given at the tender age of seven. There are still stray threads that poke out from him like spines on a cactus; the temptation to pull them is countered by the realization that Herbert would likely fall apart if that happened. As a result, I would try to be very careful when handling him as the years went on.
Now beset with dust and dirt as a result of time and age, the big, brown bear still conjures up memories of home; when I visit my parents, I still wander up to my room, climbing those creaky stairs, only to see him sitting up on the bed, greeting me, that half-worn smile still there, and the now-dulled eyes expressing sheer delight at my return. My eyes returned that same gaze. Occasionally, I would dust him off and hold him for a bit; while we were almost the same size during my childhood days, now Herbert merely comes up to my hips. When I wrapped my arms around the large, rotund beast, it reminded me of the time he taught me to no longer be afraid of the dark, or the time we watched the thunderstorms together, or any one of the many Christmases we spent with him at my side. Seeing my bear again fills me with visions of my childhood - of a simpler time free from worry.