There is a box at the top of the closet in our spare room and it contains the remains of one of my dearest friends. Occasionally, when the mood strikes, I will pull out the box and dig through it, until I find his tiny body. He is small now, much smaller than I remember him, and is missing one eye. There are tears near the joints of his body and his body is covered with pills, like an old sweater that hasn't been shaved.

Every time, I do this, I am taken back to a time when I was small and the world was large and sometimes scary. He was my constant companion, the one who kept me company when there was no one to play with. He and I would carry on conversations, though he often times didn't hold up his end very well. He and I would hide under the covers at night when the vacuum cleaner would roar down the hall, sounding like a monster coming to rip the covers off and devour us both.

I don't miss him all that much on most days. I think I more miss the time in my life when I didn't have to worry about pending projects, sick friends, bills, war, madmen with bombs, how old my parents are starting to look, how quickly the pages of my calendar turn, and whether I am doing the most with my life. This little guy doesn't know much about those things, but he has always been known for having very little brains.

I think about the fact that he has had so much impact on my life that one of the few things I have insisted on over the years is that he goes to all of the newborns of our friends. We go to the store and I look at the 20 or 30 versions of him, trying to find the one that has the right look about him for this new child. Because I know that this new kid is going to need a friend because it is a big world out there and I can't think of a better friend to have around.

If no one is around, I usually try and hug him bye before I put him back in the box. I do my best, but time and nature have made us incompatible now. I am too big with too many worries and responsibilites and such a small friend can't help me very well to carry the burdens that I have to bear now. But, I hug him none the less, because let's face it, everyone can use a hug now and then.

I return the box to the shelf and without fail as I leave the closet a single phrase echoes in my head:

Silly, old bear.