My mother taught me how to crochet when I was 8 yrs. old. It was something we did together, especially during those long, winter days. We crocheted everything and anything – scarves, mittens, vests, skirts! My mom, along with my Aunt Martha would crochet around the edge of these special handkerchiefs, some of which I still happen to have today. I even crocheted a purple vest for my big crush and love of my 12 yr. old life, Donny Osmond! 😊 Oh, my sweet momma helped me box it up in pretty purple tissue paper, which we then carefully wrapped in a brown paper bag, before taking it to the post office to mail to his home in Provo, UT. Gee, I wonder what happened to that vest when it arrived?! 😊
When I was pregnant with each of my children, I crocheted them their first baby blanket. Each one made with so much love. I still have them both today. I had hoped to pass them down to their children. My son, John, doesn’t have any kids yet so his is still packed away and when Melanie had Cameron, well, I knew he wouldn’t want a pink blanket, so I made him one of his own.
When John and Melanie got older and moved out on their own, I would eventually crochet each of them a blanket to fit their bed. Now if you know anything about crocheting, you realize that making a small baby blanket versus a king size one is a much bigger time commitment. Days and weeks vs. hours, but it was something special that I longed to do for them. In my mind, it was a tangible item they could have forever, and when I was no longer here maybe they would wrap themselves in it and remember my love that came along with each stitch.
Due to Melanie’s addiction she didn’t spend many Christmases with us over a 10 yr. period. We are very thankful that this past year we were able to share the holidays together and Christmas would be the first time we would all be together as a family. In late November I decided that I would make Melanie a new blanket for her bed. I started working on it each night and in every free moment I had. I started stressing over whether I’d be finished in time and wondered why I did this to myself. Why didn’t I come up with these great ideas earlier in the year and not in the middle of the crunch of the holidays! But truly, I loved each moment of making it and couldn’t wait to see her face when she opened this special gift. When I finally completed it, only 2 days before Christmas, I laid my hands on it and prayed that each time Melanie placed that blanket on top of her she would not only remember how much I loved her, but that she would know and feel the love of her Heavenly Father. I couldn’t always be with her, but I prayed the Holy Spirit would envelop her with love, courage, and strength to keep walking in His light.
No matter how old Melanie was when Christmas rolled around she behaved like a little kid. She was always the one who counted all the gifts making sure it was “even”! She was also the one who shook each box to guess what was inside. I found out years later that one Christmas she and her brother opened each gift while I was at work and then taped them all back up!!! She was certainly the mischief maker in the family! At least on this Christmas morning, she couldn’t figure out what could possibly be in this big box! She saved it until the end to open and I can still see the look on her face when she realized what it was – her very own, “blanket of love”!! I had always told my kids that it was called a blanket of love because each and every stitch was made with all the love in my heart for them. With tears in her eyes and a special look between just the two of us, we understood the meaning behind this gift. You see, I had made Melanie a blanket of love years before but somewhere along her hard road, she lost it. For my girl, this beautiful pink blanket was a symbol. A new start. A new beginning. She had her family back and the unconditional love of her mother, staring back at her with every loving stitch.
When Melanie died and I received her things the next day the first thing I saw was her blanket of love poking out of the bag. I pulled it out and held it close to my face. It smelled just like her! In the early days after she was gone, I would keep it next to me and reach over and just breathe in her scent. It made me feel as if she was still here with me. I have since folded it up and have it on a chair in my bedroom. Many nights before I climb into bed, I lean my face down into her blanket of love and just breathe. I’m so thankful that even today, it still smells like her.
Recently, I began thinking about how much comfort that blanket brings to me. Even when I just look over at it, it’s like a small piece of her remains here with me. Her perfume still lingering on the wool. Then, I began thinking about how much more our Heavenly Father loves us and wants to wrap us in His arms, bringing us comfort. His love covers us like the warmest and softest blanket of all. He shelters us from the storms of life, comforting us and keeping us from harm. (Psalm 91). The days without our loved ones can be circuitous. But even during all the ups and downs I see God making a new path. “Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers through the badlands”. (Isaiah 43:19). Melanie loved life and she loved me! I saw a meme on social media, and it said, “I can either let the missing you drown me, or I can let it teach me how to swim” (Gemma Troy). Wow! That struck a chord in me and has propelled me forward knowing that Melanie would not want me to drown, so I will learn how to swim! I will remember my girl’s beautiful smile on Christmas morning as she opened her blanket of love. On the days when I am struggling, I’ll lay my head and heart at the feet of my Heavenly Father as I walk through the valley and be thankful that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).