Someone significant was missing from Jessica Crawford’s life. He wasn’t a friend or family member, but he was equally significant. Her beloved white teddy bear, Whitey, was packed away in a box, worn and ravaged by years of love. His nose was missing, his eyes had fallen out, a dog chewed off one of his ears, and (gulp) his head was even detached from his body. He had seen better days, for sure, but Crawford had fond memories of her long lost friend. “Anytime I cried, I ran to Whitey,” Crawford told Inside Edition.”He soaked up a lot of tears.”
Although Whitey’s “life” seemed to be over, this tale has a very happy ending. Crawford’s fiancé, Vas Alli, decided to surprise her by restoring Whitey to his former self. He spent weeks researching vintage teddy bears to see how Whitey looked originally. He then took the destroyed bear to a doll hospital in New Jersey where Whitey was completely transformed to his original state. Alli then boxed up the bear and presented him to Crawford as a Christmas present. She opened the box, quickly examined the “new” bear and then it hit her, it was Whitey. And you know what tipped her off? His scent.
“Oh my God, are you serious?” Crawford declared as she hugged him and began to cry. “I smelled him and knew exactly what it was.”
And that’s what killed me, that this bear not only held such significance for this now grown woman, but that his smell, a scent she recognized from the years she held and cuddled him, stayed with her all this time. My own child has a stuffy that she loves and adores. She’s so protective of him that she won’t let me share his image or his name in pieces I write (I’ve asked her before). I totally respect that. He is incredibly special to her and a dear friend, albeit an inanimate one. I would never ever take him to a lab to see what kind of bacteria could be hiding in his matted fur. The poor bear has been covered in puke, peed on by our dear-departed dog, splattered with milk, dragged on the floor, and generally kid handled every day for the last six years.
As it turns out, this is just part of the experience of having a beloved stuffy. The New York Times gives a shout-out to Dr. Donald Woods Winnicott, a prominent pediatrician and psychoanalyst and his 1953 article, “Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena — A Study of the First Not-Me Possession.” He wrote:
“The parents get to know its value and carry it round when traveling. The mother lets it get dirty and even smelly, knowing that by washing it she introduces a break in continuity in the infant’s experience.”
Stuffed animals (or other beloved objects) play an important role, they form “a bridge between the mother and the external world.” The meaning and power given to these objects can last a lifetime. The New York Times notes that “Twenty-five percent of young women going to college take along something identifiable as a childhood transitional object.” They may not need them for comfort each and every day, but they will never be forgotten, as is evident in the touching video of Jessica Crawford and her reunion with her bear Whitey (which you can watch below).
Do you remember your childhood stuffy?