Recently I participated in Craft Hope's latest effort, the Pillowcase Project in conjunction with the ConKerr Cancer Group.
It was my pleasure to be able to use my sewing skills to put together several pillowcases to donate to this cause. I wondered though, what could possibly be the impact of a pillowcase on someone's life? It is, after all, just a piece of bed linen.
Kids and parents have written letters thanking the participants for the pillowcases and it occurred to me that I needed to take their word for the fact that, even though it was a small gesture, it was important to them.
And then the weather turned chilly and, as is my habit when the air turns cool, I walked to my dresser and opened the third drawer from the top. I reached inside and pulled out my hospital socks.
For a moment I stood in my bedroom with the slighly shabby socks in my hand, and I became fully aware of the importance of those pillowcases.
The hospital socks. What's the story behind them?
Several years ago I went to the hospital to have a procedure done. It was the procedure that everyone dreads. The one that involves a full day of drinking yucky stuff and living in the bathroom. Yeah, that procedure. No matter how many people tell you that the preparation is terrible and the test is nothing, the anxiety level still rises as you drive up to the hospital.
I found myself in a waiting area, with nothing but curtains separating my space from the other patients. A physician sat across the hall and droned on incessantly into a recorder, unaware that the open door and the echoing hallway was destroying all HIPPA legislation. Yes, I was privvy to everyone's procedure results!
The Farmer sat with me and we chatted, but still I felt very alone. I could not imagine what goes through the minds of people who are laying on these beds facing serious health issues. It just felt lonely to me.
The room was cold. I just remember how cold and lonely it felt. The staff was friendly. They were simply going about their tasks in a professional manner but I was acutely aware that this space did not hold the security of home.
And then a nurses aide pulled the curtain back, cradling in her arms a clean, white blanket. She carefully laid it across the sheet that covered me and I was surprised. It was warm. It was so warm and soft.
"Why is this blanket so warm?" I asked.
"Oh, we have a special warming cabinet."
Imagine that. I'm sure the Farmer would approve the purchase of something so wonderful as a warming cabinet.
A few minutes later the aide returned with the pair of hospital socks. I wasn't too sure I wanted to put on a pair of socks but the Farmer helped me slip them on and something strange happened. I felt cared for. Those silly blue green socks with the non-slip bottoms made me feel cared for.
They instantly became a totem for me. Crazy as it may seem I told myself that nothing bad could befall me as long as I had my hospital socks.
The procedure was performed and slowly I recovered from that crazy anethesia. The nurse had me get dressed and put my hospital socks in a bag to take home.
And there they reside, in the third drawer from the top, waiting for a chill to fill the air. I pull them out and instantly I can recall that warm and safe feeling.
And so, I had my answer. Yes, a pillowcase can make a difference for a child. In an insitution where it would be easy to lose their identity, slowing becoming "just a patient", a colorful pillowcase can become their own individual statement. And when they lay down to sleep, hopefully they can capture a warm and safe feeling for themselves.