Tiny Baby Hats

A few years ago, a friend of mine from medical school passed away tragically. At the time, Fred was an admired naval officer and a chief resident in Elliot’s same residency program. He lived in our neighborhood, and his passing away filled us with deep sadness. In the dark days after Fred’s death, I reached out to his mother, Carol. To this day, we still haven’t met. Thanks to Facebook, though, we have been able to get to know each other in small ways. When Mrs. Trayers posted on Facebook a few months ago that she wanted to donate knitted baby items to military NICU’s, I offered to help. So Mrs. Trayers shipped her box to us, and we delivered everything to the NICU here in Okinawa, in a hospital where Fred may have very likely worked alongside Elliot. My contribution to this endeavor was quite minimal. Still, my heart nearly exploded, so I asked Mrs. Trayers for permission to share this story.

Mrs. Trayers shipped this box many weeks ago. You can probably imagine our surprise when we stopped by the post office looking for any remaining birthday gifts for Isla, and instead found this treasure waiting for us. Knowing what would be inside, I began telling the kid-friendly version of this story to Isla and Asher as we walked back to our car. We got situated in the car and I opened the box, expecting a few, hand-knit baby hats. We found a few bags full of many dozens of hats in various preemie sizes, and tiny booties, as well. Soft, beautiful yarns in an array of colors. As wonder washed over Isla and Asher, I decided right then and there, we’d go straight to the hospital to deliver these lovely items. So we did.

We spent our drive to the hospital talking about so many truly important things- the mysterious nature of birth and death, the simultaneous frailty and resilience of premature babies, the therapeutic nature of creativity, the reciprocal feeling of generosity. We arrived to the hospital, and Isla and Asher each carried a bag of baby hats (and I carried the huge box with many more bags in it) with such purpose and focus, you would think they were 35 and 33, not 5 and 3. We dropped everything off and then went back to our routine lives. Isla has since asked if I could teach her to knit baby hats.

Mrs. Trayers, my heartfelt gratitude goes out to you. Through this act of knitting, you’ve given so much. To the families of NICU babies, you’ve given support and comfort. To the NICU babies, you’ve given warmth and softness. To me, you’ve given the opportunity to connect with my kids in a deeply meaningful way. To Isla and Asher, you’ve given the opportunity to participate in an act of kindness. To Fred’s memory, you’ve given yet another example of a mother’s enduring love. All of our best to you.

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