It seems strange to me that we work so hard to find things just like what we had, to arrange them just like what we had, and use them just like we did.
I have shared my desire to know when I put my hand in a drawer I could reach for the spoon. Last night I was sewing. I have my new sewing box that is so like my old one. Without thinking I was sewing along, hardly looking up and realized that I had been pulling things out of my sewing box as I needed them. I was taking the pins out of the thing I was sewing and dropping them into “their spot.” I took me by surprise and it felt good.
As I sewed last night I realized that my hands knew what they were doing. I have been sewing a long time but lately I have taken on some new types of tasks. Last night I was making a dog travel blanket to very exact specifications. Sophie travels with me. Over the years I have tried many different types of travel pads. A few years back I found a perfect pad, it was just the right size for her to lie on but it was very compact and traveled very well. The pad came in a very extra-large size so I cut one in two and finished the edges. Then I lost one. I still had the other half but I also had some concern that I might lose it too. I ordered 2 more of the very large pads. The first I cut in half and gave Sophie’s cousin one and kept one for her. I now had three pads. I felt like it was just the right amount. When the fire came, I was not able to get even her current one out. I reached for it but it was not in the basket where it should have been so I just quickly went on to the next evacuation task. I tried to get another and yesterday found that the pad had been discontinued. I was despondent.
We have a trip to go on toward the end of October. Not having the pad was a little emotional crisis. I say little because it was. Just because it is little does not mean it was unimportant. It is the sort of crises we deal with these days. It is the stab in the heart and the gut wrenching moment when you realize yet another thing you loved or expected by routine is gone. The emotion does not stay long; it usually passes in a minute or three. Sometimes there is a small sob or a few tears that trickle down but it is like a summer rain shower. It is gone as soon as it arrives.
So like Tantalus, we are doomed to repeat this process over and over. The small crisis of discovering that something you expect to be there is not there and suddenly it is an event. We try to recognize it in ourselves and certainly in each other. There is a new kindness and softening in how the one who is not in crisis responds. Bothersome activities that in the past might have led to being grumpy are now acts of love trying to help the other with the little crisis that means so much.
Yesterday after discovering that the perfect pad had been discontinued, I said we could just go home and I would deal with the lack of a pad later. I knew my spouse had papers to grade and we were in town in one car. He said, “You want to go to the fabric store.” I responded that I really did but that I felt bad asking to detour when he had so much work to do. He said, “It is fine, we can go. I have my book I have to read for class right here. I will just stay in the car and read.”
When I got into the fabric store I found fleece right off—and on sale. I could not find an outside material. I could not even convey what I was asking for in regard to cordura. I was left to my own devises. I shopped up and down the aisles worrying about time but needing to take care of this urgent task.Of course I felt time pressure since he was in the car and I had said I would go quickly.
Finally I settled on some black leatherette and some hot pink microsuede. If the materials were for a person it would have not conveyed a great message. Being for a dog, a cute dog, it looks just right. I made it with experienced hands that knew where to find stuff in my sewing box. I was ecstatic with the result. Sophie likes it too. Here is one more thing I know where to find when I just reach for it. It is familiar, the colors are the same. The feel is the same and the physical design is the same. It is almost exactly what she had before.
Somehow things that are just like before take the edge off the loss of the original one. When I am on autopilot doing my regular chores, I hardly remember the new one is a replacement item. It is there and it is part of the pieces of the puzzle that are my life. I know the difference and sometimes the realization that this is a replacement of the one that died breaks in. Those break-ins are fewer now The puzzle is becoming clearer. I think it may be being able to put you hand on something because habit lets you know where it is and not have to look for it. When you have to try to figure it out, to look for it, it brings you face to face with the loss.
When I can put my hand on something and it is where I expect it to be, then the loss is the secondary part of the action. The familiarity is first.