Sarah’s Blanket


I was seventeen years old when I met Sarah, a petite, spunky girl with a big smile and hair cut in a Chelsea, dancing at a punk show.  We became instant friends, not typical for me, an introvert with loner tendencies, but a testament to the force that was Sarah.  We quickly became talk on the phone three times a day friends, discussing boys, clothes, and her Crohn’s disease.  Sarah was sick, she was actually very sick.  Though at seventeen I didn’t really understand that.  And I think that was a good thing for both of us.  So while there were punk shows, and house parties, much of our time together was spent at the Egleston Children’s hospital in Atlanta.  I’d squeeze into the hospital bed next to her and we’d watch t.v. and talk and laugh.  “Scratch my legs,” she’d request, and I’d comply.  We were best friends.

I would drive to the hospital every day when I could.  It was actually easier to see her there because it was halfway between her house and mine, and we lived over an hour apart.  Eventually I moved even farther away to go to college in Athens, but I still made those trips to the hospital in Atlanta.  I would do my best to encourage her when she was feeling horrible, and we made big plans for the future.  We dreamed about being roommates once she was well enough, taking classes together at college.  We were full of hope.

While Sarah battled her illness, I battled my own demons.  Drugs, alcohol, and a general failure to love myself.  But Sarah loved me and she wasn’t afraid to use “tough love.”  I remember the night at a party when she told me point blank, if you don’t stop this, I don’t know that I can bear to continue to see you.  I was less than a hundred pounds at the time, a skeletal 5′ 6″.  I pulled my act together to some extent, and Sarah never followed through with her threat.

One day I got the idea that I should crochet Sarah a blanket.  Something she could carry with her to and from the hospital, something to always remind her that she was loved.  I’ve always slept hugging a blanket (and still do, much to the amusement of my husband).  A security blanket, a “blankie.”  My first was a blanket crocheted by my mom’s best friend Caroline, in yellow, green, and white.  It lasted through my sixth year or so before it either disintegrated or was snuck away in the night by my parents.  I have mixed memories of its actual demise, fact mingling with I’m sure some fiction.

Sarah’s blanket was created from a bin of acrylic scraps that my stepmom, an avid crocheter, had given me.  I declared it her blanket of many colors, and worked row after row of what I think were double crochets.  Nothing fancy.  That blanket simultaneously became both my masterpiece, and possibly the most unattractive object I have ever made.  No one ever told me that it was ugly, Sarah certainly didn’t.  I’m not sure that I even realized it at the time.  It was my labor of love.

The weekend of Sarah’s funeral I slept on the floor of her bedroom surrounded by her out of town relatives.  I hugged her blanket and sobbed.  That was over eighteen years ago, and to write this, to remember her and what it felt like to lose her, the tears still come quickly.  I felt lost without my friend.

In the weeks after Sarah died I changed my life dramatically, making a near 180.  There was no returning to the life I lived before.  It helped that I met Jonny during that time, and we were married about six months later.  Of course that’s another story, one that is still playing out today.

My understanding of friendship, death, and love has changed and deepened over the years.  I’ve experienced a good amount of all.  And while her death left me feeling terribly alone all those years ago, I am fully confident that Sarah has been with me all along.  I know that she is smiling through the veil at her little namesake, along with all the other dear ones whose names our Mae shares.
scan0001

(Sarah and me in 1997)

Comments

  1. I love the colors in the blanket you have pictured, Is that your original blanket you made for your friend.

    mix and match is a favorite saying between me and my kids

  2. Caroline Feist says:

    Love you!

  3. Kim O.d says:

    to have such a friend, a true blessing from God!

  4. I am so sorry for
    your loss. such a well
    written tribute to your dear friend; thank you for sharing it. wonderful that your new girl is doing great!

  5. Wendy Lister says:

    Precious, Ginny, just precious. Thanks for sharing. xo

  6. Thank you for sharing this story. You continue to inspire.

  7. Such a beautiful and touching story. –You two shared such a beautiful friendship. A friend of mine passed away January of 2015. I often think about her and for the longest I would find myself in tears. Thank you for sharing this story.

  8. What a sweet and touching story. And what precious memories and a beautiful friendship that deeply impacted your life. The blanket is beautiful.

    In a completely different vein, I absolutely adore the third picture down of the bookshelf and your little guy who has stuffed himself in the shelf. That picture speaks so richly of life and childhood and wonderful everyday!! My kids would have curled up in a shelf just like that. I love all the detail. The game. The mug. The other little man studiously drawing/writing at the desk. The colored baskets. It really needs printed and framed.

    And, of course, all the baby pictures are swoony and sweet!

  9. Ginny, this is such a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. It adds even more depth to the life you have chosen. In case you haven’t read it, you must check out Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett, a true story that echoes yours in many ways. Thanks for opening your beautiful heart to all of us.

  10. Marie-Claire says:

    So very sweet. Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. What a beautiful story Ginny. Thank you for sharing that with us.

  12. rita collie says:

    loved this story and how strong a woman you have become. it resonates with a lot of us who have finally found our true self

  13. Beautiful, Ginny….so beautiful! Thank you for this!

  14. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. I love it when the names of our babies have a deeper meaning than the most popular name of the day.

  15. Linda from Norway says:

    I really like your blanket! You went all out with it! And more than anything, all the love that was poured into it!!

    Thank you for sharing this very special post- I actually had to re-read it… You have come such a long way! You inspired me before – but even more now… You certainly have had more than your share of struggles in life – I hope you have had more than plenty of love, hope, faith, peace, fulfilment and beauty to make up for it too!

    Your children are blessed to have you. May God continue to bless you and your beautiful family!

    PS- you were quite a looker as a young girl, but your beauty has only deepened with the years!

I love to hear from you!

*