When I was two, I was given a teddy bear for my birthday. I’m sure I had other stuffed animals before this, but Booey quickly became the favorite. He was very big (to my toddler self, anyway), and he had honey-colored, silky fur. His paws had white velveteen pads, and he had hard, orange plastic eyes (trust me, they were beautiful).
Shortly after I got my Booey (which was my adorable toddler way of saying ‘bear’), my sister got a Booey, too. Hers was a panda, and, let’s face it, not as cute as my Booey. Also, I was jealous that she co-opted my bear’s name. At any rate, I loved my Booey so much that his fur fell out in clumps, worn off from the sweaty snuggling I was so good at. I dragged him everywhere, as did our Irish setters. His eyes chipped off. I may have chewed on them a little. His mouth ripped, and my mother, not the most domestic of creatures, sewed it up with thick black thread. Did it look a little post-mortem? Yes. But I still loved Booey. His head started to rip off when I was nine or so, and stuffing spewed from his throat, but I just shoved in some tissues and this time sewed it up myself, feeling very much like a surgeon.
I don’t have many of my childhood toys left. We gave a lot away to our numerous cousins, and to be honest, we were like little Huns and Visigoths, leaving a path of destruction in our wake. Our Irish setters did a number on many a soft friend (not that we tossed the toys out just because of a few puncture wounds, mind you). But we weren’t terribly sentimental kids, as my own two darlings are.
But I kept Booey safe, knowing even long ago that he was a special friend. All these years later, we’re still together. He lives in my office, and I still hug him, and he still has that comforting Booey smell. I think he’s happy to be here, and still be loved.