April 3, 2009


An admission: I have a stuffed toy—Winnie the Pooh—that I take with me everywhere.

He is my friend, my sense of comfort when days are dark. He travels with me everywhere; he has sat in more airplanes and seen more cities than the average stuffed Pooh, and still smiles through it all.

For the past six years, I couldn’t imagine life without my plush Pooh Bear.

Two weeks ago, I gave him away.

I was on a British Airways flight, returning to Washington DC after a speaking gig in London, when I meant Melanie. She was sitting in the row across from me, tears streaming across her face.

Melanie was eight years old.

She was leaving her friends, her home, her life in London because her mom got a new job in DC. She didn’t know if she would like her new room, her new neighborhood, her new school, her new life.

I introduced her to Pooh Bear. I told her that he was my best friend, the person I could talk to when I was feeling alone.

She laughed at me and then smiled:

I need a friend like that.”

I handed her my plush friend and told her that she could keep him. She needed a friend right now more than I did.

On her way off the plane, she thanked me as she tightly clutched Pooh Bear:

I’ll be okay. I just made my first friend.”

I miss Pooh Bear. I miss my friend, my confidant, my travel buddy. But by giving him away to Melanie I’ve realized that the old adage really is true: if you love something, set it free.

Over the past month, I’ve slowly been learning to let things go. Sometimes holding on to something means you’re holding someone else back.