Written by Guest Blogger, Katey Furgason.
I have never shared this story before, it was too bittersweet and too close, until now.
When my daughter, Sophie, was three years old her father and I separated. Sophie quickly went from being a very secure and social little girl to being an anxious and worried little girl. She developed an acute case of separation anxiety, refused to get dressed to go outside, and her easy smiles were replaced by looks of apprehension and sadness. Seeing my child in so much pain broke my heart into tiny aching bits. Weeks turned into months, some days were better than others. Time, lots of cuddling, and maintaining a schedule helped, but, she was far from being the happy care-free child she once was.
Things began to change one day when she was ‘helping’ me clean out my closet. Sophie discovered an old bag of mine. It was a roomy gold leather bag, worn with time and use. She pulled this golden vessel out of the closet’s darkness and transformed it into her very own path back to joy. The bag was cleaned out and things were gathered to be put inside. Photographs, ‘special’ rocks, some of my jewelry, cards from family, small stuffed animals, drawings she had made…etc etc..were all placed carefully inside. This bag soon became an important part of our daily lives.
Sophie asked me to write things to put inside her bag. I wrote down how much I loved her, how kind, strong and smart she was. I also wrote about how sometimes she seemed nervous and sad,and how sometimes I didn’t know how to make her feel better. I would read her what I wrote and she would ask me questions. These questions sparked many talks about her expressions and feelings. She was given the chance to teach me about herself and to see how I saw her. We also made up stories to put inside her bag. There were stories about children being abandoned, scared and angry, stories about natural disasters and people getting hurt; stories about overwhelming emotions and circumstances. Stories Sophie always chose to end with everyone finding safety, wounds healed and happiness found. We made lists of all the people she loved and who loved her. Lists of beautiful places and scary places. We made drawings for her bag too. Depending on her mood, we drew hearts, silly faces, monsters, scary places or just fast and uncontrolled scribblings. We were unraveling tangled webs of emotions and giving Sophie’s heart all the voices and shapes it felt and needed to express.
She took her bag EVERYWHERE and it was often so full and heavy it required both arms to lift. Sophie gave the contents of her heart weight and tangibility as her family flew apart.
Time passed, Sophie turned 8, and her life had long stabilized. Her need for her golden bag had receded. My memories of her struggle and recovery had been stored away. Until the day my mother had a request that brought them all back. My mother asked me to volunteer at a children’s grief and loss workshop and I accepted the opportunity. I had lived, struggled, and loved through a child’s grief and now was a chance to use this experience to help others. My task then, was to figure out what it was I could give.
One evening, across the dinner table, Sophie looked at me and she smiled. She smiled a big, happy, easy smile. In that instant I remembered her golden bag! I remembered how it helped bring that very smile back to her face. There was my answer. I needed to make something these children could use like Sophie used her golden bag. So, I designed a pillow with a deep soft interior. A pillow that turns things,(mementos, photos, writings, drawings..) into knowable, hug-able, transportable comfort. A pillow that invites communication, that could contain life with all its heartache and love. A pillow that would let them find their own way to heal; the “be-loved-pillow”.
I made the pillows and the children loved them! They loved them so much I knew I had to make more. Sophie’s golden bag had transformed into the “be-loved-pillow”, offering all children coping with loss what Sophie’s bag offered to her.
I have not seen Sophie’s golden bag in many years but I keep its memory safely, and with deep gratitude, forever in my heart. The golden bag is where Sophie found her way to the creativity and resiliency of the heart and a way to love well; with courage, devotion and attention to detail. It is through Sophie, through the depths of her imagination and her heart that the golden bag was able to give birth to new life, hope, possibilities and the “be-loved-pillow”.
Thank you for reading my story. If you would like to learn more about the ‘beloved pillow’, please visit our website at: www.belovedpillow.wix.com/be-loved-pillow