The Beginning


One day I got a phone call, people don't want to get.  My sister in law was taken to the hospital.  She had been battling tumors that were growing in crazy places, something that happened if you had leukemia as a child.  So her and my brother knew that is was bound to happen, and she had already been through tumors being removed from different areas including her brain.  Well one on her brain was coming back, and at full force.  She had a bad seizure that day.  One that not only shook her body without any give, but it left her without the ability to speak.  She of course didn't know what was going on.  Suddenly taking a turn she hadn't expected.  As well her husband and children hadn't.  

I headed straight to the hospital once I received the call.  I wanted to be a support to her and my brother, wanting to know how I can help.  When walking into a hospital to meet a friend or family member, I think we all know that feeling of being frozen.  What now, what can I do, what can help them.  All these things were running through my mind,  and even after asking my brother, there was just the question mark.  What could I do?  It didn't seem like anything other than pray, pray hard.  So that is just what I did.  All the way home I prayed, what can I do? Please help her.

What came to me was make her a blanket.  Really?  this is what is going to help my sister, enduring these sudden seizures? Dealing with the loss of her speech? How is a blanket to help?  Luckily I had picked up some of the coveted Minky Fabric and I had it on hand.  I didn't know how this was going to help her, but I decided, what else is there that I can do?  I went home and put together this blanket, the only thing coming to mind as to how I can help.

Well? Are you wondering what came of this? Well I asked my brother to let me know.  Here are his words.

I could tell that Camille was very discouraged.  Her most recent visit to the hospital would last three weeks bringing the time spent in the hospital to 3 months over the last year and a half.  Her brain tumor had returned and had depressed her immune system to the point that it triggered a seizure.  The results of the seizure were more typical of a stroke.  It took 3 days for her to wiggle a finger on the right side. Walking was still weeks away.  Speech was gone.  The tumor was to soon take here eyesight in her left side which would now match the deaf ear (a result of a previous tumor). I struggled to find new ways to boost her spirit.  She has a native cheery temperament, twinkling blue eyes and a quick smile.  However, with the myriad of surgeries and medical difficulties throughout her life and a terminal condition, you can sometimes struggle with the right thing to say.

My sister Teri came into the room.  Camille immediately brightened up. She loves visitors and is fully aware that even with our best intentions to help and support those we love, it can be inconvenient and difficult to make the time to visit.  Teri explained to me that she was pondering on the question of 'What can I do'.  We want to make problems go away and wish sometimes that life was easier.  However, the truth of the matter is that life is difficult and you sometimes have to struggle just to smile. Teri talked about a flash of inspiration of 'I can make her a blanket'.  She pulled out a grey and white, very soft blanket for Camille.  Camille melted.  She was so happy.  I was happy and a bit teary because this situations so clearly let you know that you don't have the power to make everything 'alright' and that there are some blessings that have to come through other people.

Camille cherished that blanket.  She would panic when nurses would change things around making it seem for a while that the blanket was gone.  It was a great gift to give her at that time and I wanted to list a few reasons why.

 *   It was personal.  The blanket was made by my sister particularly for Camille.  All gifts are appreciated, but this had an individual touch that was beyond scouring big box stores trying to find something special.
 *   The softness was something Camille needed then.  Hospital beds and bedding are not known for comfort or décor. They are utilitarian.  I don't criticize that fact, but I think that when Camille snuggled in the softness, it reminded her of the hugs of loved ones.
 *   The warmth of a blanket gives me peace and comfort. I think Camille slept better with that blanket.  She felt a piece of home that she could keep with her.
 *   Blankets last a long time. Flowers wilt. Knick-Knacks grow old. Candy is great, but is soon gone.  A good blanket can stay by the sofa and be useful all the time.
 *   Blankets remind me of memories. Camille was given a quilt by our neighbors after a previous brain surgery. It matched the décor of our bedroom.  Camille was super excited. She felt a personal attachment to that quilt.  She said that they knew exactly what she needed and what would look good in her home in her room.  I think that personal touch can make all the difference.  Whenever we pulled that quilt over our bed, I would remember her statement and knew that there were family, neighbors, and friends who loved my wife and that I was not alone in our difficulties.

I'm glad Teri brought that blanket to us. I hope that you can find a way for a blanket to bring you some happiness in a similar way that it brought us happiness.  I can't guarantee that it will be as meaningful for you, but I can tell you that for my wife Camille and myself.  It made a difference.  It was a wonderful gift that continues to give.

Robert Ashby