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Thursday, January 09, 2014

Big Corner

It's just past midnight and all is finally quiet in the house.  My husband has just gone to bed and all the kids are soundly sleeping after their first exciting days back at school.

The noise of us sorting the house for the night, and the dogs heading to bed, woke our youngest, who then decided he needed to go to the bathroom.

He stumbled, half asleep, down the hall clutching his favorite blanket.  He barely opened his eyes as he finished, even when washing his wee little hands.  Still half asleep, I carried him back to bed and tucked his special blanket in next to him.  It wouldn't do to wake up and not find it there.

It wouldn't do at all.

He mumbled 'I love you' with eyes fully closed.  I kissed his pale cheek and responded in kind.  He won't remember these few midnight moments tomorrow.  I, however, will never forget them.  They are beyond precious to me.  My heart fairly bursts with love for this little guy.

Every mother feels this way at one point or another, I think.  But I have a particular reason for overwhelming love and gratefulness at such sweet moments.

He should not be here.

Noah James came after 10 years of excruciating infertility and numerous miscarriages.  Our older three are adopted: treasured gifts from God, whom we always wanted and prayed for.  We had hoped to build a blended family from the start.  We didn't know then that the 'having a child' part would prove so difficult for us.

So Noah James' arrival was a miracle.  His premature birth was, too.  Born dead, we weren't sure whether he would survive, let alone flourish.  He did both.

He was a beautifully happy baby, but never really took to any particular stuffed toy or blanket as some babies do.  He was generally satisfied if his diaper was dry and his belly full.  He needed nothing else.

Until November of 2008.

Driving on a very narrow country lane in rural Scotland, he and I set out to pick up some friends from the theatre in Glasgow.  Thick stone walls edged the little lane and a light snow was falling.

I thought the beautiful stone walls lining the road were so lovely and quaint. . .until a large work van driven by a profoundly drunk man came at us.  There was no where we could go.

I don't know how long I was unconscious. . .there was no one on that lonely road to tell me.  The driver and his mates were all so drunk they never left the van to even see if we were okay.  That's probably a good thing. . .I was definitely not and their 'help' might have proved fatal.

But Noah James was spared.  In marked contrast to my serious injuries, he remained largely unscathed, at least physically.  Except for a few cuts, bruises and scrapes, my little miracle baby was okay.

Something odd happened than night, though.  I can only guess that he was terrified there in the car, crying out for me, but receiving no answer.  It was dark and cold and his Mama would not answer him.  I can't imagine how he must have felt.

And that is how he came to have a 'blanket.'

I had tucked a little quilt my beloved grandmother had made for my future kids around him for the drive. After the accident, he would never let it leave his side.

Of course, all we can do is guess that it was his only source of comfort there alone in the cold and dark. . .it smelled of me and was all that was in his reach.

It stayed with him through that long, scary night in the ambulance and hospital, our trip home to England, my difficult and complicated recovery, and through the next several years.  It's still with him, now.  I think it may always be.

And though he loves every square inch of the tattered little thing, there is one particular part that is his very, very favorite.

He calls it 'Big Corner.'

For ages, when we handed him his blanket, he would ask for 'Big Corner' and get slightly miffed if we handed him the wrong one.  They looked identical to us, being part of a rectangle, and all.  But there was clearly a difference to him.

Finally, his particular affection for this specific corner manifested itself via signs of wear.

From then on, every day it became more threadbare and easy to recognize.  All these years later, it's hardly a 'corner' at all. . .it's more of a collection of threads with a bit of fluff hanging out.  And still it is his favorite part of the blanket.

He was only one when the accident happened, so he'll never be able to tell us how he felt that terrifying night.  I sometimes still get emotional thinking about how scared and confused he must have been with me only feet away, yet not conscious and able to come to him.  I feel that strange, unreasonable 'mother' guilt that I failed him that night. . .that I left my baby alone at one of the scariest moments of his life.

I have carried that silly, irrational guilt with me for years. . .until a few days ago.  I suddenly looked at the quilt square nearest the 'Big Corner.'  All the time we were trying to discern the 'Big Corner' from clues on the edging, we could have easily discerned it from that one little square.

And the most amazing thing?  That's the only square in the whole quilt made from a scrap of my favorite childhood dress.

I guess I was with him that night after all.

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