â€śHug meâ€ť read the embroidered words on the teddy bearâ€™s cap.
Walking along the harbor of Mytilini, working your way past the shops and cafes found along the waterâ€™s edge, you can look out and see Turkeyâ€™s coast rising from the Aegean, seemingly only a stoneâ€™s throw away. If you turn your back on the amazing scenery and head into town and up the hill, you will find yourself passing from the commercial downtown to the mansions and town houses of residential Mytilini.
Continuing on, winding your way through and climbing the hill, you leave that behind as well. That wasnâ€™t where you would find the teddy with â€śHug meâ€ť written on its cap anyway. You find yourself surrounded by large apartment buildings, somewhat rundown high rises, and simple shops owned by people looking to scrounge a living off of serving the families that inhabit these communities.
Turning around at the top and looking back towards Turkey, you can see how incredibly close the two countries truly are. The journey can be made in a couple of hours in as simple a boat as a little rubber dingy. But the view is not the purpose of the climb up the hill, and you feel yourself getting nearer, hearing the Teddyâ€™s call: â€śHug me.â€ť
Returning to your quest, you enter the cemetery. In German, the word is â€śFriedhof,â€ť literally translating to â€śplace of peace.â€ť Once you talk your way past the grayard keeper, it truly is a peaceful location. Trees grant shade as you walk along the rows of pristine marble monoliths for the dead. As you progress, the trees grow fewer and further apart. The graves here are not so ornate. Much like in the town, you continue forward and find yourself among dilapidated graves bearing the wind-worn names of the dead. If you look carefully, you can see it: a seemingly discarded teddy bear, smudged and dirty, lying on a little mound of earth, simply asking to be hugged.
Only when you leave the last of the marble graves behind can you see them: thirty or forty mounds, all pointing east, pointing to Mecca. These graves never bore namesâ€”simply genders, presumed ages, and dates the bodies washed ashore. Teddy, blown from his seat upon one of the smaller mounds by the wind, is there too, right next to a stuffed caterpillar with a paradoxical smile frozen on its face. â€śHug meâ€ť not yet visible, you gather them up, placing them back nearer to their rightful owner, a young child who will never hug or be hugged again.