When I went away to college, exchanging warm Los Angeles climes for a Flagstaff winter, my father gave me a Peruvian blanket I named Grey Wing. You might never have named a blanket, but this one held the love of my father, the power of his arms around me, and could comfort me in my darkest times. It deserved a name.
Over the years Grey Wing has comforted me through breakups and surgeries and personal crisis. Only two men in my life knew what this woven comfort meant to me, since my relationship with Grey Wing was not something I shared even with my BFF. Even though this blanket has needed repair and re-stitching, it has eased my pain and sorrow.
Until today. Regardless of what I tried, there have been wool moths in my bedroom closet. Someone suggested I look in other closets for anything wooly. And that is when I remembered where I had stored Grey Wing at the end of last winter. After clearly spending months as a moth cafeteria and nursery, Grey Wing looked like an unredeemable ratty old poncho that was clearly beyond repair.
I do not hold on to many physical memories, not even photo albums, though I still have my dad’s signet ring and a few other pieces of jewelry. But Grey Wing was the way my dad wrapped me in his love when I moved too far away for him to protect me. When I was alone and scared I could wrap myself in Grey Wing and know that I was safe. I held the tattered fabric and cried. Sometimes it is just so very hard to be brave and strong when I feel so alone, especially as we enter the season of darkness.
Perhaps I feel this loss more deeply because it is the anniversary of my dad’s death and I am in the midst of the Jewish High Holy days. Or perhaps I am just tired after three years of continual loss and transformation and craving some form of comfort. So I cannot let go of this ratty old insignificant blanket that I love and holds the memory of a father who adored me.
Grey Wing will have another incarnation and stay in my life, helping me reinvent myself yet again. My dad’s love lives on in the bruised warp and weft of Grey Wing and my life, giving filling me with courage on empty nights and lonely journeys.