I was playing with my stash of quilt fabrics the other day, and came across the fabric I bought to make a baby quilt for you, Max. Did you know I bought them long before you were born? I did. I found the main fabric, all hoppy with tropical frogs, before you were even a glimmer in the future, dreaming that someday I would have a grandson to make a special quilt for. When I learned that you were coming, I spent hours shopping for colorful fabrics to go with it, dreaming of wrapping you in a warm quilt made with my own hands. It was my way of making you real, long before you arrived, of loving and giving to the unmet spirit that was you.
My mother used to make baby quilts for friends and family, since I was just a little girl. When I got big enough, she would let me help. Together we’d pick out fabric, and lay it out in a simple sandwich with the fluffy batt in the center. Then we’d thread our thick, blunt needles with matching yarn, and with my grandmother we’d tie the quilts together while we talked and dreamed. One of the things I dreamed about was someday making quilts for my own babies and grandbabies. Quilts to wrap a new life in a cocoon of warmth and joy. Quilts that baby fingers could hold for comfort. Quilts for sleeping warm and safe, wrapped in my love, no matter how close or how distant we were. My quilts would be love made visible.
I made quilts for my own three babies. Your daddy’s was my favorite, all bright colors surrounded by a pale yellow border. How he loved that little blankie. And how he hated it when his baby brother learned to crawl, and would grab his quilt. We used his quilt to play Roly Poly Pudding and peek-a-boo, and snuggle for story time. It was there when he slept, there when he played, there when he cried, and there when adventures and scary things made a small boy’s life a little uncertain.
I wanted so much to make quilts for you and Maddy, my Max. I was so excited to welcome you to the world, and our family, with a gift made by my own hands. I was sad when your daddy said he didn’t think you needed one, and that I shouldn’t make one for you. I put the fabrics away carefully in a box, but I couldn’t bear to give them away. I still keep them safe, and from time to time I take them out and smooth them with my hands, playing with the colors and dreaming of what a fine little quilt I would have made, all bright with tropical colors and hoppy frogs. The smooth crisp fabric against my skin comforts me, connecting me to you and to my own mother and grandmother in a chain of tradition and love. The bright colors remind me of the flashing joy of those days, when you were just a possibility, and when you were new, and when you were growing, my little Wild Thing.
Even dream blankets can be warm and safe.