She sits in her room and looks out the window. What would it be like to a part of a great and glorious world like that? Instead she stays hidden away. She thinks she is not enough to be of any good to anybody.
Truth be known, it is difficult for her to move past her kitchen. Her body has become laborious. She remembers a time when she would go out into the world, buy groceries, go shopping for clothes, visit a friend. She remembers a time when she had a name. Now she is nobody and she knows it.
Now it is too hard. Besides, who would miss me, she asks. No one really needs me. No one really cares. She even wonders if her husband cares. Sure he buys the groceries, yarn and whatever else she needs, but is it just out of obligation? She wonders.
She sits and knits all day long to pass the time. She knits blankets and caps and gloves. And they pile up by the door.
“No one needs these things,” she sighs to herself. Still it is a comfort to have something to do that doesn’t make her hurt when she walks.
Knitting is her passion. She develops a tighter, thicker stitch with exceedingly warmer, softer wool yard to keep her husband warm when he goes out to plow snow from the highways in the winter.
“This scarf you knitted me keeps me warmer than any of the other men at work. How did you make it so warm and yet so soft?”
“I knit all day long.” She is glad her husband likes it, but she has long ago stopped showing emotion. She is nobody and has no name.
“You know the children next door look cold without hats or gloves. And I know they don’t have blankets.”
Immediately she is suspicious. Does he want me to go outside into the world again? I don’t want anyone to see me. I want to stay here where I am nobody and no one expects anything of me.
“No one would want my blankets,” she says and turns away. Yet she continues to knit because knitting is what she does. It is her gift, but to her it is as natural as breathing. To make things with knitting is nothing special to her.
Every day her husband comes home and says the same thing to her encouraging her to share her blankets and scarves with the children next door. And every day she responds the same way feeling she is nothing. The fact that he wants her to do more only makes her feel all the more that she is nothing with no name.
Snow had been falling constantly all night. Her husband left early bundled in the gloves, hat and long, very warm scarf she had made him. He even took several of her blankets for his truck in case he got stranded in the mounting snow.
“Do not alarmed for me if I do not come home tonight,” he said. “I will be plenty warm in your blankets. I have taken some food with me as well, just in case.”
She is sitting by the window knitting where she has been all day. It is in the afternoon when she notices what appears to be a young boy sitting in the yard next door. It is snowing. Why is the child sitting in the snow? Why is he not moving? Why does he not have warmer clothing on and a scarf and a hat?
But what could I do about that, she asks herself. She is nobody. She continues to knit watching to see if someone comes to help the child. An hour passes and the child does not move.
She waddles to the kitchen to get some lunch of warm stew and hot tea for an afternoon meal. She can still see the little boy sitting in the snow. He must be hungry, she thinks looking down at her bowl of steaming beef stew.
Slowly she stands and makes her way to the closet to find her coat, which barely fits her. It has been a long time since she needed a coat. It had been a long time since she was needed at all. She is nobody and has no name.
She throws several of her extra warm blankets over her back and stuffs a hat, scarf and gloves in her coat pockets then dons the same for herself.
She grabs a walking stick from beside the door and trudges out into the snowy day. The snow had stopped and the sun had come out, though it was still fiercely cold.
It takes her some time to reach the child. She speaks to him. He doesn’t respond. She nudges him with the stick and he stirs slightly. She places a blanket over him and he snuggles into it’s warmth.
“Is anyone home?” she asks.
He shakes his head no.
“Well, you can’t stay out here. You will freeze if you aren’t already frozen. Can you walk?”
He stands slowly. She pulls a hat over his head and hands him another blanket which he wraps around his small body. She hands him the gloves which he pulls on his hands.
They make their way across the yard to her house. Once inside he stays wrapped in the blankets while she warms a bowl of stew and warms a glass of milk.
He eats as if he has never eaten before. She notices how his soft brown hair curls around his ears and how the bluish purple in his unusual eyes matches the color in the blankets still draped across his shoulders.
After eating, she asks if he would like to remove his wet clothes and put on a sweatshirt of her husband’s while she washes and dries his. He agrees. The sweatshirt is like a dress on his small frame. She shows him to the spare bedroom, where before she realizes it he is fast asleep with the blankets she has knitted snug around him.
The boy sleeps through the night. Each time she goes to check on him, her heart warms as she sees him snuggled down under her knitted blankets.
The next day, the boy carries the blankets everywhere with him. He sleeps a lot and eats when she offers him food.
Concerned others may be looking for him, she asks about his parents and the house next door. When he doesn’t answer her, she asks, “Is that where you live?”
He shakes his head yes.
“Where are your parents?”
She waits for an answer. He stares out the window at the house.
“We must try to find them. I’m sure they are worried about you.”
He sits still staring as if he could will someone to emerge from the house.
She decides to leave him alone. He sleeps again. This time she notices that he tosses and turns as he sleeps. And she wonders where his parents are.
“What is your name? I need to know what to call you.”
Again he does not answer her. She doesn’t push him. Maybe he is a nobody like her. Maybe he does not want to have a name.
She begins to get concerned that someone might accuse her of kidnapping the child. If she only had a phone.
A wayward thought passed through her mind of the time she told her husband she wanted him to remove the phone so no one could contact her because she didn’t want anyone to say her name. He had finally agreed. It had made her calmer to not have a way for others to find her or bother her.
Right now, though, more than anything in the world, she wanted her husband to come home so they could figure out what to do for the little boy with the bluish-purple eyes. For the first time in years she decides to do something she hadn’t done in a long time. Not believing it would work, but having no other resource, she prayed. “God, I need to know who this little boy is and how I can help him. I’d also like for my husband to come home to help me figure this out.”
Her husband opened the back door just at the moment. She jumped at the sound, startled at the immediate answer to her prayer.
She took him to the room where the boy lay sleeping. His face softened as he saw him.
Quietly closing the door, he led his wife down the hall to the living room. They sat in the wing chairs as he explained what he knew.
“First, I’m very glad you went out and brought the boy inside,” he said. “His mother, father and younger brother and sister were killed in a bad accident yesterday afternoon during the storm. No one knew where the boy was and we couldn’t get her to find out if he had gotten home. I prayed you had found him and brought him in. And you did. Apparently he walked home from school and couldn’t get in the house.”
She gasped audibly. She stifled the sob that rose up in her throat.
“He’s going to need some place to stay. And he’s going to need some place to heal. He’s going to need someone special to help knit him back together.”
He paused as watched his wife’s face. He could see the tear glistening in the corner of her eye.
“Lydia,” he said softly. “You are the most wonderful knitter I know. If you can take something ordinary like yarn and make it into extraordinary warmth that warmed this little boy’s body, just imagine what you can do to mend his soul.”
She lifted her eyes to him and said, “Yarn is nothing special. What this boy needs is more than I can give.”
He answered, “What this boy needs is exactly what you can give. Will you try?”
She looked at the floor. She thought of his brown curly hair and the sadness in his beautiful eyes. He was a lot like her. Her sadness was not at the loss of people, but at the loss of herself. “If he wants me to.”
“You know it may mean that you have to go outside and walk him to the bus and watch for him when he comes home,” he said.
Could she venture out into the world again? Could she brave being known again?
From somewhere deep inside she felt the answer come, “Lydia, My child, I sent this little boy to help you find yourself again.”
She raised her eyes to her husband. “Who am I?”
“You are Lydia, purveyor of beautiful blankets and mender of a little boy’s heart.”
“Is that who I am?”
“It is if you want it to be.”
She reached across the space between the chairs and found his hand reaching back.
I’d love to hear your response to this story. What does it mean to you? Should I continue this into book-length?
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.