This I Believe
I believe that stuffed animals are especially for teenage boys.
My health was failing. I didn’t know why it was that way but it was. I was sixteen and at the start of my junior year in high school when it became unbearable. Sooner than I had hoped, I was scheduled to leave for the hospital, four hours away from home, where I would live for six weeks in extensive treatment.
The room I was given was small, the walls bare and pale white. I had only a limited amount of items I was allowed to bring with me, so I brought a thrown together set of clothes, a couple soft blankets, hygiene supplies, a stack of paperback books, and a small, odd looking penguin stuffed animal. The item, however, which brought the most comfort to me and was most needed by me, was the item that I debated over longest of whether I should take it with me or not.
I named the penguin, Forte, because of the strength he gave me. A glance at Forte isn’t enough to recognize what he’s fully made of, but if held tight and close to you, I’m sure you would feel it too. He smelled of an old bookstore. This unanimated penguin became my closest friend and companion in the hospital, giving me more reason to talk than the lively, conversational doctors.
The days and nights were as different as can be imagined. During the days, Forte the penguin rested alone in my shut, locked suitcase. It became bright, hot, and the sun made my salty skin stick to my clothes. I spent these days working on piles of school homework, and I found any opportunity to walk around the sallow grass lawns of the hospital grounds. The nights though, became chill, and my skin felt clammy. When I thought it safe, I quietly unlatched the suitcase and pulled out my warm, smashed, comfy friend, held him close to my chest, and told him all about my day.
When I was sixteen, I would have been embarrassed if people knew a stuffed animal gave me company through the night. But now, it would only be sad to me, to see a sixteen year old boy without his own stuffed penguin to hold.