By Colleen Lowe Smith
I’d made the mistake of practically bragging to a friend how Cassidy had never been sick before and that she’s “such a healthy kid.” Naturally, two days later she was feverish after napping twice the time that she usually naps. The day after that, still peaking temperatures at 103, I took her to the doctor just in case. Not much they could do, viral, rest and fluids blah blah blah, come back if she wasn’t better in a few days. Which she wasn’t.
Saturday her breathing was visibly short, and she was still feverish when the tylenol wore off. “Call the doctor,” my husband said, and off we went. I grabbed blankie, knowing what soothes Cassidy most. And I remember thinking I could just leave it home, but I didn’t. When we got to the doctor’s, my husband asked Cassidy if she wanted to bring in blankie and she said no. We left it in the car.
Cassidy had an ear infection inboth ears, for one thing. When the doctor started saying things like “pneumonia,” “bronchial spasms,” and “chest x-ray,” I sort of tuned out and let my husband take in the information about steroid dosages, antibiotics and nebulizers. We left the office and went straight to the drug store, and we all went inside to wait for the prescriptions to be filled. When we got home, Cassidy and my husband went inside while I ran the last errand of going to the bank in the opposite direction.
At home, Cassidy laid in my arms like a sack of hot potatoes. After awhile my husband and I shifted positions, and she fell asleep against him. I wanted to go get blankie knowing she would be asking for it when she awoke. It wasn’t in the car. I came back in. “Where’s blankie?” I asked my husband.
“It’s around,” he said.
I wasn’t convinced. I went back to the car, did a search, came back in.
“Did you bring it in when we got back from the drug store?” Cassidy was delirious, pressed against his chest.
“I don’t know, Colleen. I’m not worried about it right now.”
But I was. I started making the rounds in our small house, my search getting slightly more frantic.
“You’re stressing me out,” my husband whispered.
I started to look in impossible places: the laundry basket, the dryer, the hat basket. We had it in the car with us. We didn’t bring it inside anywhere. We didn’t bring it inside anywhere, right? Did we bring it inside anywhere?
The doctor’s office was closed, but I called the small rural hospital where the office was and the operator transferred me to security, who did a search in the hallways and parking lot to no avail. I called the drug store, who did the same. Blankie was officially missing. I was a wreck.
It’s five days later, Cassidy is still afflicted with a cough, but is back to her cheerful, busy self except for the spontaneous combustions into blankie inquiries. The first ten times she asked in her fevered delirium for her blankie and I couldn’t provide it to her were horrible. It’s still horrible when she asks and I have to say “Honey, I just don’t know where it is. We can’t find it.” I even ran out and got another one, with the same kind of hem she runs her fingers along as she clutches, but it’s far too soft, it’s far too new. It might do later, but there is no substitute.
I couldn’t protect Cassidy from getting so sick, and to watch her feel so miserable with no power to help is an awful feeling. But losing blankie? Why didn’t I keep better track? Why didn’t I leave it home? Where the hell did it go?
Cassidy will get over this virus. She’ll probably get over blankie, too, but it might take me longer.
Colleen Lowe Smith lived as a wanderer and Montessori pre-school teacher in ten different states and New Zealand before meeting her husband and landing in rural Massachusetts. Together, they raise their two year old daughter, and pigs. She also has a 14 year old stepdaughter and 24 year old stepson. Obsessed with higher education, Colleen has an BA in Studio Art, a MA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Human Studies), a MFA in Writing, as well as AMI certifications in Montessori education, and Psychosynthesis, a holistic form of psychotherapy. She currently teaches at an awesome Montessori school where her daughter also attends.