I have been dealing with sleep disturbances for quite some time now. I can pretty much count on waking up from 2 a.m. until 4 a.m. every early morning. I’ll start thinking about my children, my marriage, our school, whatever transpired the day before, and what is coming up, for good or not-so-good.
The other night, though, I suddenly burst awake, startled by something different. My coat! My pink, suede, leather coat with lamb’s wool. Where on earth did that coat go?
Ugh! I totally forgot to clean it up from the dry cleaners…four years ago! I remember the day I dropped it off. It was not at my regular dry cleaners, but it was close to where my then-four-year-old Eva took ballet. While Eva was at ballet, I walked with three-year-old Vincent down a block and dropped off my coat at the cleaners.
I have been known to leave things behind, but I usually figure out what’s missing within a week or two. But four years?
I called the dry cleaners this afternoon. I began with “This is the craziest phone call you’ll likely receive today, but…” and went on to explain.
“Hold on,” the woman said. I heard voices in the background. I didn’t hold my breath; for one thing, it had been four years. For another, the coat is not one I would wear around town today, and it wouldn’t even fit if I wanted to wear it. I guessed it really didn’t matter whether they still had it or not.
“Yes!” she said. “We have it!”
“Are you serious?” I said. “No way.”
“Yes,” she replied. “I won’t charge you. There is some sun damage to one of the sleeves from being in the window so long.”
“Oh,” I said. “No, of course I will pay you. That is not your fault. I left the coat there for four years. I will come and get it!”
I smiled in disbelief as I hung up the phone. You know what? It’s true that the coat will not fit me now. And it’s true I would likely not wear it around ever again.
I began to reflect. When I was 28 and desperate for a baby, this is the coat I wore when I traveled from Ballard to Renton to take line dancing lessons with my sister at a wonderful big old barn. Having just had surgery and diagnosed infertile, after years of trying to become pregnant, this is the coat I wore when I cried each week alone along that drive from Ballard to Renton.
I wore this coat and my gold-tipped cowgirl boots along the drive to the line dancing lessons each week, tearful, regretful, mourning the children I would never have, blaming myself, and hopeless about my future as a would-be mother.
I mourned that whole winter following surgery and my diagnosis. The one thing that made me feel better was meeting my sister and line dancing. I remember smiling and laughing together as we learned dances to Suds in the Bucket by Sara Evans and Christmas Cookies by George Strait. After class, I would get in my car and drive alone home to Ballard, where I would resume blaming and regretting and mourning.
Thank God for doctors who can at times work past infertility with hope and a prayer. Thank God for my first miracle baby, Eva, who arrived the following year. And my second miracle, Vincent. And years and years later, little Valerie.
My pink suede coat does not fit any longer. I wouldn’t wear it even if it did. But it is there waiting for me to pick up, and I am going to go get it.