When you were new, you were pink and soft and had silky satin edges. You had a velveteen underbelly, a polka-dotted sateen center, and a teeny giraffe tag was tucked in miniature stitches to the corner. You seemed unnecessarily expensive and plush for a baby, but you were given with so much love and blessing. You were folded with gratitude into her tiny trousseau.
When sleeping was hard and colic wrested hours of sleep from us all, we introduced you to her. We tucked you under her chin to teach her of your almost skin-like closeness. We hoped you would bring comfort when sleep was elusive. And, for the longest time, she was impervious to your charms.
But then, one quiet, moonlit evening, you stole her heart and became her sole and best companion on her nightly trips to dreamland. You nestled just right between her fingers. She reached for you in her sleep. Once, we spent a night out of town and failed to see that you had slipped behind the crib at home. We spent all night awake, missing you.
We loved how she loved you—but the fiercest love always comes with the fiercest of fears. We feared losing you and witnessing the first heartbreak our daughter might face. So, we found your identical twin and treated you to a week of rest as you and Other Blankie took turns keeping company with our little one at night. We are sorry for your nights alone in the closet, but it was important for you both to age gracefully together.
As our baby grew in strength, you gradually yielded yours. You and your twin lost your velvet backings within weeks of each other. You were our companion on plane rides, on hikes, on play dates. You learned how to eat with her, you attended her first tea parties, you were close through the endless nights with the stomach flu.
You went with her to her first day to preschool. You were a comfort from home permitted past the gates—unlike this worried Mama. When she came from Kindergarten, you were her first thought when she exclaimed excitedly that they were allowed to bring something special for this wondrous activity called “Show and Tell.” The kids in class said you were old and tatty, but she beamed proudly, “She’s not old. She’s well-loved!”
Blankie, you are seven years old now. You are thin and frail and barely recognizably pink. I wash you separately, fearing the robustness of a regular laundry cycle could leave you unraveled. Most nights she still looks for you, and when I check on her in the last minutes of my day, you are often still laid on her pillow: her night time companion, her closer-than-skin friend.
But recently, she went on a sleep-over and she left you at home. She said she thought you would be safer at home, and departed breathless and giggling and ready for girlhood adventures.
She has always loved you, but I didn’t know until now how much I have loved you, too. You have borne witness to her childhood, you have been her stalwart friend. I thought you were just a blanket, but you have been so much more than that: you have done the holy work of whispering love to my sleeping baby all these years.
She is growing up, Blankie, and one day she will leave me just as she is leaving you. And so I’m practicing with you: the slow learning of remembering with joy, and releasing with trust, this girl who was only ever given to me to love by God for a season.
It’s a privilege to have been hers for a while, isn’t it?
Image of “Blankie” courtesy of Bronwyn Lea