My two-year-old grandson held out his blanket to me: “Make me a hay barrel,” he said in a voice needing comfort. Unfamiliar with such a request, I hesitated. “A hay barrel,” he said again, attempting to wrap the thin fabric around his small hands. Gently I took his blanket, creating a cylinder form that he happily accepted, smiling at me and then burying his face in the familiar shape. I had helped him find his comfort, his place.
We all understand about security comforts like blankets and stuffed animals—some of us might even hold on to such objects, burying them in the back of drawers as we age—fearful that the loss of such a talisman will upset the level place in life that we have found.
But change is inevitable and after a while we might be forced to let go of these objects. Or other items that arouse memories of marriage, child rearing or even our own childhood home. It’s called downsizing; but if and when you are forced to do it, make sure you hold on to some of these comforts.
In the last two weeks, my husband and I have been living at my brother’s house while we wait for the moving van that will bring our “home” back to us. When we need something, we often have to ask: is it at the new house, which is basically empty, or did we leave it in our car, or at my brother’s home, or is it most likely still on the truck, making its way across the country?
We completed the final details of selling our house and buying this new one, in the car, carrying all the paperwork in a briefcase and relying on cell phones as we zipped along Route 40. Unsettling and confusing, to say the least. But we are making it happen and we know we will have the comfort of our own place in a space of just days. The calendar will be back on the fridge reminding us of dates (sorry—the cell phone calendar just doesn’t do it for me); I’ll know what drawer holds extra checks and what clothes are hanging in the closet. (Right now all I packed was jeans and shirts. Getting tired of jeans.) And I’ll be able to set up my computer with my favorite keyboard and write faster and more confidently than I am doing on this laptop. And I’ll be able to unpack and place those items which will forever provide me comfort and memories: photos albums, a wooden high chair that was mine and my brothers, a small child’s chair that was my children’s and lots of framed photographs. I downsized, but I didn’t toss away my memories.
Moving is stressful. My daughter gently teased me, suggesting that I get a new job now and have a baby—because those two things added to losing a loved one and moving are the most stressful things we do in our lives. Well, the job idea is a possibility, but way way in the future. And bottom line—my life is going just fine. I am fortunate beyond words. I have comfort in my family, even if two of my children are living far from me; I have comfort in the love of my husband. Bottom line, I have a place in the lives of these people I love that continues whether I know where my favorite book is or whether I have to put on jeans again today or not!!
And if I get down about this interim period in my life, I’ll think about a woman much younger than I that we see everyday as we get off the freeway. She has a sign that she is homeless. She has a box she holds out asking for money. She needs comfort, she needs a place—and something pushes her to this spot everyday, as her search goes on. I just pray that standing there has not become that place that she seeks.
We all need the comfort of a familiar place—a blanket shaped just right, a drawer where we have tucked that doll that meant so much to us when we were five. Or just a room that is filled with things we like to touch, smell or gaze at. For when we need comfort, it’s usually found in our small space, our place, our “hay barrel.”
Thanks to Google Images.