I was never a kid who had a special stuffed animal, a blankie, a "lovey" or a teddy bear that made me feel secure -- something that I loved until it eventually turned into an unrecognizable piece of stuffing or cloth.
The closest I ever got was my beloved stuffed unicorn in the 80s that I didn't want to sleep with because I wanted to keep it pristine, kept high upon a shelf so I could admire it as it watched over me with all its magical 80s unicorn powers.
This was not the case for my youngest son, Sam, who has had his little blanket, "Blue" with him since he was a wee one.
Blue is one of those small, 14x14 fancy blankets made by the Little Giraffe company. I first met Blue when he was given to me as a gift at a shower for my older son, Jake, who never showed any interest in the small baby blue blanket. But Blue hung in there, waiting patiently for our next boy who was about to love him up until the shiny white ribbon around his edges was tattered and worn and the light blue chenille was matted down flat.
Blue is not just a blanket, Blue is more like an extended member of the family; we refer to Blue as him rather than it or that. He's been on family vacations, to parties, restaurants, stores, you get the idea, he goes everywhere with us.
All relatives and friends of us know Blue. Sam declared one day it was Blue's birthday and we had a party for him. My best friend Laura took Sam to a play once and said how much Sam looked like Linus from Peanuts as he was wearing a red striped shirt, black shorts and carrying Blue.
Now Blue has gotten lost more times than I can tell you -- during his toddler years Sam went through a "putting Blue in weird places" phase throughout the house where sometimes we'd find him in the freezer, buried in a pile of toys or art supplies and once in the oven.
When Sam was in pre-school he was asked to make a photo collage of important things, to hang up at school and look at when he wanted to see things that made him happy. These things included family, friends, and of course, Blue.
One time my husband David flew out the door at 9:55 to get to Target before it closed. He had called first to see if Blue had been turned in, they said no but we knew he was there. Sure enough there was Blue, sitting on a shelf between the pretend food and little pianos.
Now don't tell Sam, but we are on what David and I call "Blue 2" -- he did get lost a few years ago during the aforementioned putting Blue in weird places phase. It was right around Christmas and Sam was beside himself, so we ordered an new one. It was the last gift that he unwrapped on Christmas morning, all pristine because Mrs. Claus had sewn up the edges and made him perfect again. Wasn't that nice of her? Comfort and joy indeed, all was right in the world again.
Sam is now 7. He still loves Blue, who was now again all tattered and loved up, rough around the edges. We recently went on a trip to Arizona of course including Blue, who had a blast. On the way home, he was packed in our carry on bag but he never back to the house. Somewhere along the way, Blue had left us again.
We've contacted the airports, the airlines and the rental car agency with no luck.
So this time, Blue was gone. We decided to wait it out and see what happened; Sam knew we were looking for him, but was going to bed without Blue and seemed OK. Maybe this was the end of Blue, he was getting older, so...I guess this is how Blue goes out? Sam seemed to be handling it pretty well.
Then just last week, around ten at night Sam came into our bedroom.
"Mommy, where's Blue?" He looked distressed.
"Remember Sam, they're looking for him." At least two weeks have gone by...it's not looking good for the return of Blue.
"OK." He turned and walked back to his room.
I got up to check on him and there he was, staring at the ceiling, quietly crying while holding another little blankie we like to call "Backup Blue. " (Good Lord, I know...)
"Are you OK Sam?" I asked.
" I just miss him. Do you think he's OK? Do you think they're still looking for him?"
"Yes." I answered, knowing that was a lie.
"You have Backup Blue here, right? What about Little Blue, that you keep at Mooma's house?" (Yes, there is Little Blue at my mom's house you guys, because we are crazy people.)
"I just want Blue back." He started crying harder. I told him to come into our room and lay a while. He was facing David and I started crying too. What's wrong with me? I kinda missed Blue too.
The next morning at work at 7:00 I forwarded David an e-mail with a link and the words "we probably should do this" attached.
So yes, any day in the mail we should be receiving Blue #3. Or New Blue. But to Sam, it will just be Blue. And all will be right in the world again.
And I'm still pretty convinced that Blue #1 is still somewhere in this house, stuffed in a good spot, just waiting to be found.