When I was four years old, my best friend was lost at sea.
Winnie the Pooh was one of my favorite shows in the first few years of my life. This is largely because I liked anything my older brother liked, and he liked Winnie the Pooh. My brother had a stuffed Pooh, which I am pretty sure he literally loved to pieces, so it wasn’t long before I had one as well. Mine was only about 8 inches tall, but he was perfect for me.
I took that little guy everywhere. I even took him on family outings, like when we went camping in Dunes State Park. Throughout the trip he was dirty, he was wet, and he was buried in sand.
But I didn’t expect him to get lost.
My parents suggested my bear floated across the water, to another young boy, and was loved. I knew this wasn’t the truth, but it helped.
Between the ensuing torrent of tears and the time that has passed, I forget whether my little bear was actually claimed by the water or simply left at the campsite. I forget his exact size, though I’m sure he was smaller than I remember, as childhood things tend to be larger in our minds. But I will not forget my sense of loss.
It wasn’t the stuffed animal I missed. I was given another Pooh Bear, full-sized like my brother’s, only a few months later for my fifth birthday. This second bear I loved as well, but it wasn’t the same. I had learned that my friend had actually just been a toy, a thing, an object. And objects can be replaced.
Yet I still felt something was missing, that I had lost more than a stuffed bear. It was as if, by losing my Pooh Bear and learning it was just a thing, I had lost a friend that I could never regain. I had lost the potential to have that type of friend ever again.
I think that our first attachment is very strong, whether it’s to a blanket or a pillow or even a Pooh Bear. When the bond is broken, and it is broken one way or another, we learn the difference between a person and a thing. But I have to wonder if some people end up learning the wrong lesson, and keep trying to fill the hole in their lives with possessions. I can’t find it in me to blame them, but I wish they knew the truth.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t get my Pooh Bear back.