A Symbol that We're Out of Time

My son has been dragging the same blanket around for 7 years. (well, I did wash it every now and again.) It's a sled for his toys. A launch pad for his rockets. It's a fun way to carry blocks. It went to school with him the first day. It's a tent, a rag, a comfort. He always knows where it is. When he noticed a hole in it, he asked what would be involved in the repairs. I can't repair a knitted blanket, not the way he wants.

Still. My heart was as heavy as his because this blanket has an amazing story that started before he was born.

I was just pregnant. Just. maybe a month or two. It was Friday and I was looking forward to the weekend because we were leaving right after work for something and wouldn't be home until Sunday. I don't remember what but that much I remember.

My neighbor called me at work. (Everyone is my neighbor, I live in a town with 18 houses.) So anyway, she asked me to swing by after work because she had made something for my baby. "Babe isn't due for months yet and I really don't have time tonight, so why don't we schedule a coffee." Nope. It could not wait. She wouldn't hear of it. I had to come pick this baby gift up today. End of story. She was so determined to get me there, she ordered groceries and asked if I'd be a dear and drop them off.

Sigh.

I did bring her groceries by and I accepted the beautiful knitted white blanket she handed me but I felt extremely guilty because I couldn't stay and chat. I was also very confused as to why she was giving me a baby gift before I had a baby to wrap it in. Still. She insisted. She said that it wasn't my blanket, she was giving it to my baby so I couldn't refuse it.

She said she worked on it all night to make sure I had it today. Today. Really, I knew better than to argue it with her so I promised to swing by Sunday as soon as I was back. She didn't look too worried and I got the impression she was pretty sure I was going to flake out on that Sunday coffee-- which made me feel even worse for walking away with the blanket I didn't deserve.

When I did get home Sunday, there was a flood of cars at her place so I didn't go by. Still. The guilt was eating at me because I felt like I'd accepted a gift and fled. Later that day, I learned that she'd passed away Friday night in her sleep.

She was gone and my last moments with her had been rushed, taking a gift she worked on for a baby that wasn't born yet.

Guilt twinkled with a million other emotions that made me sick. Did she know she was dying? Was this why she insisted on giving me the blanket that day of all days?

I rarely wish to go back and relive a moment, but if I could redo that one, I would. I would spent more time chatting-- so what if I was late for something so important I can't remember it 8 years later. I remember her. I remember that conversation. Which means it was more important and it was where my heart truly was.

I placed the blanket on a shelf in babe's room and vowed to never let my babe touch it. It was a blanket I would cherish forever.

But. It wasn't my blanket. She'd made that clear and my son was about to remind of that.The first time I wrapped him it, he slept better. Well, as a new mother, I wasn't about to question magic like that.

It soon became a necessity in his crib. Then somehow I was trucking it to town with us.Before I knew it, he was dragging it around. At first it was cute and I told myself she'd loved to see him with the blanket. Soon I discovered that it was his and there was no way in hell that I was taking it from him. That beautiful knit blanket followed him everywhere. He ran it through the dirt. It waited on the floor while he bathed. Well, once it went in with him. He stood in front of the washing machine while it bathed. It was weaved with pink and blue splashes that he liked.

There was one identical to it in the closet only it was purple. He liked that one, too. But not as much as the white one. The white one was his. The purple one was its buddy.

At seven, he should be over the blanket, but he's spending more and more time with it these days. He folds it carefully before he leaves for school. I'm not allowed to wash it anymore. I see it in his eyes. He thinks his blanket is dying. The hole has grown, the fabric is growing weaker. He's loosing a friend that has always been there waiting for him since before he was born. A friend that's come in handy countless times.

It's just a blanket, yet... it's not. Ya know? For both of us now, it's a symbol of time that we can't get back.

You have things in your life that remind you how fleeting time really is?

16 comments:

Carol Riggs said...

That's lovely! What a compelling story. And I like the line: "...it's a symbol of time that we can't get back." So sad that his blanket is "dying"--but he did have many good times with it. Maybe his experiences will make him understand people and their deaths better? I think his attachment is sweet. :)

Angeline Trevena said...

What an amazing and sad story. I have a painting hanging in my house that my late Grandmother painted. She died when I was about 16 and every time I see it I wish I had taken the time to get to know her better. We all think we have forever to catch up with people though, don't we?

E.J. Wesley said...

My wife works with very sick people, and I'm convinced most people 'know' when it's their time if they are going slowly.

Touching story, and I'm not sure I could let that blanket go either! Could you stuff a special pillow with it or frame a scrap of it to hang in your son's room above his bed or something? IDK, just seems like something worth hanging on to in whatever fashion.

Story really touched me, because I had a special blanket as a kid (orange blanky, I believe :). Used it until it was in shreds. :)

Richard said...

Maybe that's why we write; we want to leave something of ourselves behind for future generations. Your friend left a blanket for a child she never saw. Maybe we hope our writings will have as much meaning for the future as the blankie has for your son.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Ah, Tanya, this was so lovely. I can see that blanket. I can see your son folding it so carefully. You must write a book for children about the blanket. What a gift she gave you. And, I'm sure she understood your rush. On the brink of her next journey she would have understood a lot of things.

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow - what a beautiful story. I wonder if you and your son could decide to make a strong part of the blanket into some kind of art/keepsake. Maybe put a section of it in a frame? make a small pillow from it? Something so he will always have part of it with him. It's obviously very important to him.

DUTA said...

Great post! It gave me goose bumps.

I believe a blanket is an item most of us get easily attached to. It's friendly, warm, comfortable.

I've got such a blanket myself. It has been with me for ages. At first I used to protect it with a white cotton cover, but I soon got weary of the cover, wished to feel only the velvety touch of the blanket.

Your neighbor knew exacly what gift will please the child and made her be remembered by his moother.

Angeline Trevena said...

BTW there's a blog award waiting over at my blog for you.

Tanya Reimer said...

Carol, I do hope it does help him learn to part with things.

Angeline, it's lovely to hear that you get these emotions when you see the painting. In a way, she's with you everyday!

EJ and Jemi, I love the idea! I will see what he thinks.

Brill-ee-ant Richard! You hit the nail on the head, this is exactly why we write, our time is running out and we must must must leave behind something.

Elizabeth, it was very touching of her to do this and yes, it's amazing how her memory lives on.

LOL. Duta, I had a blanket, too. You can't go wrong with a gift like that eh?

Carrie K Sorensen said...

This is a wonderful story, a great reminder to appreciate.

Being a happy ending girl, I did a quick google on how to repair a knit blanket. It's possible to knit a 'patch,' if you know someone who can match the stitches.

http://www.ehow.com/how_2252548_repair-crocheted-blanket.html

Juliana L. Brandt said...

What a sweet, heartfelt story. It's incredible how memories get woven into possessions! Thank you for sharing this :)

E.J. Wesley said...

Hey Tanya! Wanted to let you know I've given you an award on my blog. Don't worry! It comes with nothing attached but my thanks. :)

http://the-open-vein-ejwesley.blogspot.com/2012/05/bi-annual-me-post-awesome-people.html

Victoria Lindstrom said...

Those kind of life moments are what make life so special - very nice post, Tanya. You always have a way of allowing us to peek inside your heart.

Samantha Sotto said...

What a brave and beautiful post, Tanya. (You should have warned me that I needed tissues before reading this!)

Carrie K Sorensen said...

E.J. may have beaten me to it, but I also posted an award for you on my blog - the Kreativ Blogger. :) Good to see so many people enjoy what you write.

Vicki Tremper said...

Such a beautiful story. You shouldn't feel guilty about rushing out of there. She understood. And at least now you know why she insisted.

My oldest is about to turn 9 and he still sleeps with a stuffed elephant he was given just before he turned 1. He stopped dragging it around when he went to school, but he must sleep with it every single night no matter where he is. His little brother has never developed an attachment like that.

Good luck to you and S for that blanket. Do you have photos of it? Maybe that will be an acceptable stand in some day.