I don’t remember when Eve first became attached to her blankie, a once white John Lewis muslin, which became scrappier and greyer as the years went on. I do know that when she learnt to crawl at seven months, one of the very first things she did was scoot over to her cot to grab her blankie in her fat little fist.
From that day onwards, she was rarely seen without one muslin or another, she’d trail them behind her like an extension of her arm as they grew increasingly grubby and frayed. I can picture her running around in her first red Startrite shoes, at nursery school wearing princess dressing up, in the back of the car after a long sunny day on the beach, after school on the sofa watching TV with her thumb in her mouth. Always with a blankie. She’s had lots, but gradually a favourite emerged. The one we were never allowed to wash. The one that she couldn’t sleep without.
When we left home last November, it was a quarter of its original size, and permanently grey. For five and a half months, it’s come everywhere with us, well almost everywhere. We left it in a campsite cabin in Timaru in New Zealand, when we were rushing to get going one morning. Only realised when we’d reached our next destination three hours away. When we discovered our error, Eve cried, big, fat, sad, silent tears as if her heart was breaking. So after much emailing between myself and the very understanding manager, we made a two hour detour on the way back to collect it.
Since then, we’ve always been extra careful about packing the children’s teddies and blankies. Along with our passports, they’re the only things we really care about. But despite all our care, it wasn’t enough. This week we lost blankie. Properly lost it.
Our last night in Kuala Lipis saw Eve going to bed without it, and us promising to look for it in the morning. We looked and looked and looked. It hadn’t just slipped down the side of the bed, it had gone. We think that the hotel housekeeping must have bundled it up with the dirty sheets and towels and taken it away. We asked if they’d found it, but we don’t think they really understood what we were looking for.
Eve was philosophical, said that she’s got her less favourite blankies at home, they’re not the same but they’re still better than nothing and she’ll be glad to see them when we get back. But I think this is the end of an era, she’s nine now, she’ll never go back.
She’s not the only one who’s sad.