When I was in my early twenties, my paternal grandparents died. It was the first time I suffered a great loss far away from my nuclear family. I lived in Chicago and received the news over the phone with no shoulder nearby to lean on.
I remember quite clearly sitting on my bed the night I learned about my grandfather, wrapped in a blanket they'd given me. It was a soft blanket. As I stroked it, I remember thinking I was off the hook from my usual worries, because not even I could hold myself to my schedule when this thing had just happened.
Back then only the death of a family member could make me give myself a break, let me live in the moment and admire the softness of a blanket.
Since turning forty two years ago, I've finally begun to let myself feel the blanket without first extracting a pound of flesh. This period since my lay-off (8/23/2016, FTW!) has introduced that thing I've always assumed would be the beginning of the end: losing my job. I've been steadily employed except for 12 weeks of maternity leave since 1996. Normally my mind would go straight from lay-off to bankruptcy to eviction. But somehow, because of the softness of a blanket, there have been three freelance projects and ten interviews and an upcoming reading and conference panel appearance. I haven't nailed my next step yet, but I haven't felt like a failure. And it's because of the blanket.
Mindfulness is a buzzword, for sure, but it is shockingly effective. My only regret now is that I suffered through so many years thinking if I stopped listening to my repetitive thoughts I'd somehow forget to breathe. I feel bad for the me of then. That time totally sucked.
And I thank God I didn't lose my job then. And to some extent that my husband lost his three years ago, giving me proof we could pull through a loss of half our income without losing our house. A dear friend told me then all I'd remember in the end was how we treated each other, and I really tried to set aside my worries and be supportive then, and I'm getting it back in spades now.
I know this period of changing seasons will pass. I'll find a new job. I'll end the era of working from home, an era that perfectly bookended my daughter's elementary school years (I'm grateful for that). I'll probably wish I'd worried and freelanced less during this time, but to some extent, that's just who I am.
But here I sit, wrapped in the blanket my sister bought me to replace the lost one from my grandparents.
And just now, I was thinking how soft it is.