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The Blanket

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There are things we learn visually, things we learn by doing. I learn knitting by the rhythm. Somewhere in each pattern there is an inherent rhythm that you have to listen hard for. And at some point it becomes contemplative, meditative. While I am working on a piece I lose myself in the music and think other thoughts – or not. Along with each finished product is a journey of thought as you lose yourself in it. That brings me to the journey of the blanket. 


The story of the blanket begins with a page torn out from Real Simple magazine. It was a pattern to make a winter hat with big bulky yarn. My mother had taught me how to knit some years before but I decided that I wanted to try knitting again. Somewhere in the back of my closet was an unfinished mint green something – a sweater – no, really just a sleeve. That unfinished business came around again and here we were – mother teaching daughter how to knit. 


A phone call from my doctor. “You’re pregnant,” he said. I made him repeat it in case I hadn’t heard it correctly. Soon after that, the planning began. Furniture, bedding, paint colors for my miracle baby’s room. Now this was a point of great debate with my husband – I had to know if the baby was a boy or a girl. And at the next sonogram we found out. A girl! (I already knew, however. Science just confirmed intuition). So then the bedding was chosen. Bright vibrant flowers. Magentas and pinks and yellow. Happy shocking flowers. And then the trip to the yarn store to pick out the perfect yarn for her blanket. Her perfect Hollywood-take-me-home-from-the-hospital blanket. She was going to be a November baby so only a cranberry color would do. 


And so the knitting began and so did the rhythm. The anticipation of bringing my daughter home in this blanket I had made for her. The needles couldn’t move fast enough! All of the years of waiting, the countless tests and disappointments seemed like they had never happened. All that mattered was my daughter – I was finally going to have my most heartfelt wish come true.  


Then the rhythm changed. It went from joy to anxiety as we found out about the cysts growing in the baby’s left lung. They were pushing on her heart and compressing the right lung. She would need surgery. The upper lobe of the lung would be removed and the bottom lobe would grow to fill the void. More tests were needed. Specialists, surgeons, neonatologists. It was overwhelming. Sometimes the blanket could be worked on in an attempt to turn my brain off and surrender to the familiar monotony of knit and purl. Other times, the blanket sat in a bag in the corner. I couldn’t even bear to work on it. What if the baby didn’t come home?  


The blanket traveled to and from the hospital helping to pass the time when I couldn’t be with Courtney in the NICU. Most of the work on the blanket happened the day of Courtney’s surgery. For what seemed like countless hours it took to remove the cysts from her lungs I was glued to the blanket saying a silent prayer that my daughter would be as feisty and resilient as she needed to be. And thankfully, she was. 


The still unfinished blanket then made an appearance in the ambulance that took her back to a neighboring hospital for recovery. Amazingly, six days after her surgery, Courtney came home. It was a perfect New York fall afternoon. The leaves were changing and there was a slight crispness to the air signaling a winter yet to come. However, the perfect take-me-home-blanket did not add color to this moment. It remained unfinished. 


By that point the blanket could tell quite a story. However, I found I couldn’t work on it any longer. Courtney’s journey was still so raw and working on the blanket was anxiety – not the joy it once was. The familiar stitches brought back all the fear and uncertainty of the recent events. No matter how many times I tried to pick up the needles and work on completing the blanket, I had to put it back in its bag and shove it under the living room end table as if that gesture would make all the anxiety go away. It didn’t. 


I learned going through this journey that you have to ask for help. Whether is someone to listen, drive you to an appointment, or just make you dinner and take care of you – people will open their hearts (and refrigerators) and help. So, I asked my knitting teacher, my best friend, my mother to help me. The blanket was passed from daughter to mother, now grandmother, with the request to complete it. 


Courtney sleeps with this beloved blanket every night and she needs to grab it and wrap it around herself as she gets into the perfect position for sleep (just like I do). One day I will be able to tell her of the story that is woven into that blanket and the journey it took to become hers. I so look forward to that day for then she will know of her resiliency, her strength and the circle of love that surrounds her – woven into every stitch.  

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