Sometimes the most cherished and valuable items are the ones worn around the edges. The ones that comfort us, warm us and catch our tears in their fur and smile back at us through their stitching. I’m so honored to introduce you to Sarah – and her bear, Artic. You should get to know Sarah and the important work she does at Violence Unsilenced.
I have just turned six, and my mother and I are out Christmas shopping when I spot him: one stuffed polar bear among a sleigh full of identical stuffed polar bears, backs folding over bellies, snouts forward.
I cry every night for two months as my mother tucks me into bed: I will do anything, for this bear, I say. Please get me this bear. I don’t want anything else, Mama, just this bear.
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I still remember the joy I felt opening the box on Christmas morning and seeing his pink nose, shining black eyes, sweet white face. It’s one of my earliest memories, pressed on my brain like a thumbprint or a kiss. The lights on the tree – twinkling, gleaming – had nothing on me. I named him Arctic, and he was my Red Rider BB gun times seventeen.
Years ago, after realizing there would be three of us in our bed, after seeing I would not let go of this easy, familiar comfort in my arms for pretty much anything, my husband asked, when are you going to give up sleeping with the bear? I pretended to think it over. When we have a kid, I said. Periodically he asks again, and I think to myself, let’s be honest, it’s been 24 years: the answer is probably never.
I don’t care at all that I am a grown woman with a bear. I don’t care that’s he’s been through two re-stuffings under my grammie’s careful hands. I don’t care that two years ago, when he took an accidental trip through the washing machine, I sobbed against the door of my laundry room as if I’d lost him forever (even though he survived just fine). How do I explain he smells like every night I’ve ever had?
His clear, clean white fur has turned a dull grey, but he is just Arctic to me: pearlescent in my eyes, and irreplaceable. Priceless, like all our best things.
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Do you have a cherished and storied item that you’d like to share? Come find out more about Storied Collections and submit one of your own. We’d love to hear about it.