I swear, I double and triple checked everything important I'd packed before I went back. ID card? Yes. Keys/flash drive? Yes. School library books? Uh-huh. Phone card so I don't lose my only way of calling Mom? Sure thing.
We get up to school and take two trips to unpack the car. "Is that everything?" Dad asks, once we're inside the apartment.
"Yep, everything except the bear of course."
Me: *stunned look of horror*
*flees to car, sure he's just been shoved to the floor under the weight of the grocery sacks*
I forgot Bearlioz. In the last-minute hugging goodbye of Mom, followed immediately by my third goodbye to the jealous but irresistible dog, and with my hands full of groceries, I left Bearlioz my beloved teddy bear on the kitchen table.
I never sucked my thumb or had a blankie when I was a kid, and I didn't even sleep with a special stuffed animal until I was 12 - I made a deliberate choice to start after reading a few books where girls did and thinking it sounded nice. I had a few different ones, mostly a small white teddy aptly named "Bear," but then along came the oversized Ty teddy. My parents gave him to me for college, thinking that his size would make him almost like a substitute for not having my beloved dog with me...never suspecting how necessary he would become in his own right. He went by "Big Bear" until my first-year symposium class listened to a recording of "Symphonie Fantastique," by Hector Berlioz - absolutely beautiful, so I named my stuffed animal after him (with a clever spelling twist, of course).
Since then, Bearlioz has caught about 16,000 tears during my many, many miserable nights at school. Sometimes the only thing that gets me through an awful day or an exhausting Homework Week is knowing that at the end of the night, at least I can curl up around him for a while. Being approximately the size of a small toddler (his head is as big as mine), it's almost like having another person in bed, and I've gotten very accustomed to cuddling.
My parents will be back in 3 weeks - but oh, dear God, so much homework before then. So many terrible nights. This is the most horrid and awful part of the whole semester, and I don't have any comfort at all. I mean, I do at least have the original Bear on my dresser, but he's barely the size of Bearlioz's head. Round and plump like a plush soccer ball; that's hardly someone to cry to. My parents won't be back for three weeks. Three solid weeks without him. I want to cry just thinking about it, but then I remember that he's not here, and...oh God, it's just the blackest, most crushing feeling I've felt in a long time.
I know I need to outgrow him at some point. I will. But right now, I need every trick and shortcut and crutch available to drag myself through this overwhelming, terrifying, almost insurmountable horror show they call college, and if that includes a teddy bear. Unexpectedly losing one of the things that keeps me most grounded is so far away from OK.
*sniff* BEARLIOZ! ...he looks like this, only bigger, with no tag and no bow and much rougher-looking fur from having been squished and stuffed into packs and tossed around the bed at night for four years.