A Teddy Bear Named Hope

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<p>Be a clown everyday. Taken at Chessington World of Adventures, Surrey, England.</p>

Be a clown everyday. Taken at Chessington World of Adventures, Surrey, England.

When I was four years old my house burned to the ground. I remember all of the events surrounding this night. It being December- days before Christmas. My assumption that the smell of smoke was from a neighbour having a barbecue, a bizarre activity given that it was winter in Surrey, England. Witnessing my brave neighbours trying to break down the front door with a ten foot steel pole with attempt to save us.

One of the most vivid memories of this night however was that of being in my childhood best friend’s bedroom surrounded by other children from the street. A social worker came into the room. She wore a long charcoal coat made from wool and had thick, curly, dark brown hair. She sat on the bed, and having introduced herself to me handed me a teddy bear. This bear looked to be sad and at least twenty years old. It was brown and tatty with matted fur. I was grateful for the bear but secretly wasn’t fond of it.

The next bear I received was from my nursery school as an offer of condolences. I remember it being in nice shiny wrapping paper, sitting in a circle and it being passed around all of my classmates. Once opened, it was white like snow. Fluffy with iridescent paws. The black stitching appeared to give it a smile. I cherished this bear and would sleep with it every night for years to come. I kept the brown bear hidden away and never went back to play with it.

Somehow at the mere age of four I chose to be optimistic. I chose to value the bear that was given out of love and kindness over the bear that had been given out of obligation. Every time I looked at the white bear I was reminded that I was never alone as long as I had friends. The brown bear just reminded me of the sounds of sirens and my mother’s screams. These were recollections that I knew I could not grasp too tightly. Instead I had to hold onto the feeling of excitement from the unknown- similar to the feeling I had when the bear went around the circle. The belief that there were many new and good things to come.

I am uncertain of how I knew to have a surviving spirit at such an young age- my family life was not a stereotypical one until a few years after this night so it was not from learning conduct of others. Yet somehow a four year old girl chose to believe there were brighter times ahead.

As an adult and over two decades later, I have experienced other difficult events in my time (after all it’s the game of life) but have kept the spirit of that little girl. Whenever I am faced with a set back, whether it lasts moments or months, I think back to the two bears and which one I trusted to be my closest companion. The one of hope, excitement and new beginnings.

Admittedly this takes more work in adulthood. As adults we are plagued with self doubt, unnecessary pressure and at times surrounded by negativity or dissuasion. We live in a world of instant gratification and neglect to find a few seconds to breathe and find rationality. As children we thought we had all the time in the world and would naturally think of the glass being half full. But as grown ups, often our days are jam packed with goals and there are often unexpected hurdles on our way to success, so it proves challenging at times to remain positive.

Whenever you find that your world has been turned upside down, take a deep breath and choose to hold onto the feeling of hope and trust that there are better days to come. What would you have done as a child? Children rarely give up unless told to do so. They are determined to grow into strong adults. And little do they know the irony of this act.