My apologies sweet child, that it has taken so long for me to write your blanket letter, though I suppose it’s your grownups who have really been waiting for me to do it. Your mum in particular has been wrapping you in a blanket she knows nothing about for months now. I’m grateful to her for the patience she’s shown me as I struggled, who knew it would be this hard? I will spare you the details and just say that I’m glad I got it worked out before you were old enough to pester me yourself.
You – dear light, are a special beast. I know you’ll grow up with a sense of that, as all children should, but in your case it seems ridiculous not to acknowledge that you have arrived after a time of crisis. You are the baby born to us after we learned that not all babies live. I have worried that this could come to be the most important thing about you – that none of us would be able to separate our fear and loss from the experience of being with you, that there could be no joy or happiness that weren’t edged with an anxiety that spoiled it – but it turns out that it works in a way that I wasn’t expecting. (I will spare you too much foreshadowing of the life you are about to live sweet Abby, but spoiler alert: almost none of your time here is going to work in a way you are expecting. Wait until Elliot tells you about escalators.)
You are one of the most supervised, guarded and protected babies who has ever lived, and we appear helpless not to do this – I’m sure that I owe you a personal apology for the number of times I’ve poked you while you were peacefully sleeping, but I don’t regret a one. We have tried to counter our paralyzing and oftentimes illogical fears with with careful thinking, planning, conversations. Not in a single moment with you my darling Abigail, has anything been taken for granted. We rock and hold and take a million pictures of you while we understand completely that there is an another reality possible. Each person in the family is so thoughtful about your existence, so aware that we could have empty arms, that each choice is lovely, intentional and deliberate, and centres on who you are as an individual. I worried that you would live in the shadow of Charlotte, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. We remain grateful for the glimpse we had of her, and simply grateful for all the time we have with you.
First things first, your blanket is to the others as you are to Elliot and Charlotte, a sibling. It is the same size and made from the same yarn – so that they belong together as a family. Like families (and siblings) some of the elements are about you, and some are about the family together and your connection to them.
The centre of your blanket is a beautiful pattern called Candlelight. I chose it because of what lighting a candle symbolizes to us. In our family we light candles to celebrate, to remember, to spark beauty and hope and brighten dark moments. Sweet Abigail, this is what I knew you would be before I even knew you were you. After your great-grandmother died it was your brother Elliot that taught me what a balm babies are for broken hearts, and in some very dark moments the wee spark of you was enough to to be our candle burning in the dark. You were promise, and with every little flame I knit I knew you would be light – and like Elliot, you are.
Around the flickering centre field, ring lace. This is the only element that has been on every blanket I’ve made for babies in our family. It’s on your brother’s, your sisters, on Frankie, Luis, Maeve, Emmet, Myrie and Sasha’s. I knit it on all of them because I want you to know that like them you are part of something bigger than yourself – the ring of this family encircles you with love and support. We are your home.
Past that – something just for you. I swore that I even though your mum tells me you are a rainbow baby (a child born after a loss) I wasn’t going to lean too hard into the whole rainbow thing, not get caught up in a whole cutsie scene and besides… well, you know how I feel about it. Still there is no denying that you are indeed the rainbow that comes after a storm, and so…a panel of rainbows just for you and your mum. Those rainbows are made of curved branches of Lily of the Valley – a nod to my own Grammy. She was wild and fierce and powerful, beautiful and strong and (I thought) maybe a little dangerous. Kay McPhee made me feel so loved that even now, on the cusp of my 55th birthday, more than forty years since she last stroked my hair behind my ear, I still wish for her and aspire to be one little bit of a Grammy like her.
The border before the edging is roses on a trellis, and this is an element your blanket shares with Charlotte’s. It is for my mum, your mother’s grandmother, the indomitable Bonnie McPhee and a nod to the matriarchy that runs this scene. I was torn about repeating something, but you and your sister are the first babies in this family who didn’t have the privilege of meeting my mum, or each other. We have pictures of my mum and Elliot together, and Elliot and Charlotte together, but you are on this side of the great divide, you come after your sister and after the reign of the mighty McPhees. Tupper always said that we are very good at keeping people alive in this family, with storytelling, legends, and pictures and so this motif for my mother appears on your blanket to draw a connection with her, and with your sister. I hope you’ll see it there when you are a bit bigger, and ask me to tell you the story of your blanket, and when you do I will tell you about Charlotte’s perfect day, and my mum, her roses and her magnificent thorns.
The edging lies beyond my mother’s rose garden, and it is something else that you share with your siblings. Like a last name, you all have the same one. It is a very old pattern called Print ‘o The Wave. I put it on your brother’s blanket to symbolize the water we all love to be in and on, and the wave of love that carried him to us. On Charlotte’s blanket I put it on there for those same reasons, and for the water that she and Elliot were born from and into – beautiful soft waterbirths. For you my Abigail, it is on there for all those thing you have in common with them, and because of all the things in the world, water is the softest and strongest, and a beautiful metaphor for overcoming difficulty. The hardest rock can be carved by water in time, and the largest obstacles swept away. Water is powerful, water is enduring, and water seeks level over time. I don’t want to get too mushy, but it is the perfect symbol for your parents love for you, the journey that it took for them to be able to welcome you, and the gentle, brave way they have found to parent you despite their fears. Wee child, you are carried on a wave.
Finally, two things you cannot see, but are in your blanket anyway. First – there are mistakes that I didn’t fix – and that’s new. In the past I have worked hard to make blankets and other things (like life) as perfect as I possibly can, believing that perfection is equivalent to beauty, and mistakes anathema to joy. After the last few years I want you to know that I am really, really sure that they are not related at all. Sometimes bad things happen and everything is (eventually) beautiful anyway. While I can’t see it in you at all right now when every inch of you appears to be faultless, I am sure that you are imperfect. I know you will make mistakes. When they happen, my sweet one, look at your blanket and remember that the things that go wrong, that you get wrong, those things can still be part of a beautiful whole.
Second – invisible but there – every hope, every fear, every wish, every dream I hold for you is in this blanket and all the stitches you can see. I often tell people that I truly believe that knitting is a love container, and in this case it is not just love that I have knit in. I want you to think of it more like a talisman and a shield I have brought into being. As I knit it, I thought about you, and ran my hands over your Mama’s belly. As I knit it, I looped an incantation for protection and saw you whole and here. As I knit it, I worked a charm for safety and wished you into our arms. As I I knit it, I cast my own yarn spell for happiness and waited.
As I knit it I imagined you small but strong, growing, laughing, being with us always, our Abigail, here just as you should be, where you belong, and where you are wanted.
You are loved beyond measure, welcome beyond belief, and you are magic beyond knowing