Originally posted in 2012, slightly edited.
He was just a teddy bear, with brown fur and a white muzzle. He was a Gund bear, given to me by my fathers two unmarried cousins, who always spoiled us. He had that really soft fur, the kind that makes a teddy bear stand out above the rest. It was the Christmas of 1983 and I was nine years old.
My father was sitting in the arm chair by the front door and I went over to show him. He took him from me and studied him for a moment. “This is a nice Teddy bear. I think you should name him Gnome Leo. He looks like a Gnome Leo, to me.”
I giggled because it was a silly name, but I nodded my head in agreement. My dad was always doing things to make me laugh, blaming his flatulence on the elephant under the couch or making goofy faces while I stared at him upside down. The fact that my dad named my new friend personally made me so happy. It also made a relatively plain old stuffed bear my prized possession.
Gnome Leo and I held tea parties and he was always by my side, master of ceremonies. He came with me on family trips, to the park and to overnight slumber parties. I always slept with him at night, holding him tight as children do, through thunderstorms and nightmares.
When my father passed away when I was 12 and Gnome Leo was there to comfort me. Gnome Leo became even more special to me, after that. No matter how much older I got, he always had the prime spot on my bed pillow, while other stuffed animals and dolls were either on my giant wicker chair or put away in my closet.
He survived me puking on him one night after I had gotten drunk, too young to hold my liquor. I cleaned him the best I could, but his fur on one arm was never quite the same, having lost its luster.
When I got pregnant and moved out, I took him with me, along with a couple other much loved dolls. I asked my ex to please bring Gnome Leo to the hospital when I had my daughter. He knew how much my teddy bear meant to me, although he called me childish.
The day I finally left my ex, I didn’t think to grab my bear. A week after, when I went back to get some of my personal belongings, I found most everything gone. Journals, diaries, school yearbooks, letters and notes. All of my childhood Christmas decorations my mother had given me.
And Gnome Leo. He left the other two, untouched. Because he knew how to hurt me.
I know, it was just a teddy bear. But he was my link to my father, my childhood. He was more than just fur and stuffing. He had been my companion, my friend..my confidant.
Just one of the many reasons why I hate my ex.