The Binney

It’s April 15. Hopefully your taxes are filed.

You probably would have known why April 15 was significant without my reminder. You might not know that it was the day that Abraham Lincoln died (he was shot the evening before and died early the next morning) or that the Titanic sunk on that day (again, it hit the iceberg late in the night of April 14 and then sunk a few hours later in the early hours of the 15).

April 15 is also my youngest brother Shepard’s birthday. He died seven and a half years ago, but if he was still alive, he’d be turning eleven today.

As I’ve mentioned before, my dad wrote a book about Shepard’s life and death a year or so after he passed away, and I’ve been flipping through it this afternoon. Although much of it is heartbreaking, there are also pages and pages of funny little stories about Shepard, cute things he said or did, things that make it easy to remember him the way he was, long before we ever thought he might be gravely ill or that an early death was a possibility.

The one that really struck me today, though, was somthing my dad wrote about Shepard’s special blanket.

When Crawford was born, Grandma B sent a beautiful hand-knit white baby blanket for him, Despite the dozens of baby blankets we owned, this one became his absolute favorite. He would push his little fingers through the holes and stroke it and this seemed to bring great comfort to him. He never took a nap or went to bed without having those little fingers sticking through that blanket. . . I mention this because Crawford’s name for his white knit blanket was “The Binney.” Where this came from we don’t know, but it stuck. We all cried when Crawford went to bed at age 4 without wanting the Binney one night. It was the end of an era.

When Shepard was born he received a beautiful golden blanket from [some family friends]. They had had his name professionally embroidered on it in royal blue thread. It was quite a soft and handsome blanket. We used it along with many other blankets when he was an infant, but as grew older this one became his favorite and we began to call it Shepard’s Binney. The name stuck and as Crawford’s days with his Binney faded away, Shepard’s gathered steam.

The Binney went everywhere with us, and was usually pretty dirty. Luckily it washed up nicely. He loved to have it when he played and loved to take it in the car with us. The blanket became a bit scratchy over time, but he never seemed to notice. He would lay on it and run his right index finger back and forth over the satin binding. It went through 10 hours of brain surgery and also through his short surgery back in Las Vegas when he got his port-a-cath inserted (permanent, under the skin IV which he called “his bump”). It came on every hospital visit and even the nurses knew its name. A couple of times he became quite ill during the middle of the night while we were in the hospital and one nurse took it next door to the PICU where there were washing machines and washed it all fresh for him.

Earlier, after brain surgery in San Francisco, Shepard was feeling rotten and was probably confused with his surroundings. Carole held him all day long and rocked him and tried to give him comfort – but he just couldn’t get comfortable. He was on such heavy medication and his incision was probably beginning to throb. Finally he reached down for his Binney and pulled it over his head. It was as though it’s soft touch could bring peace to his pounding head. Shortly, he was fast asleep. From then on, we could usually tell that he was having a bad day because he would curl up with the Binney more than usual or sit up with the Binney draped over his head.

After Shepard died, my mom brought up the subject of the Binney.

After Shepard passed away, we had to decide what clothes to bury him in and all kinds of other very personal decisions. I had felt so awful bringing the Binney home with me when we finally left the hospital that horrible morning when he died. I wanted to leave it with him, but was afraid it might get misplaced or damaged by the nurses or the mortuary. We had a small family discussion about various aspects of his burial and we all decided that it would be too hard for us to have his Binney here without him and so decided to place it with him in the casket. . . we draped it over his body just moments before the casket closed. I hope it keeps him safe and comforted until we see him again.

The blanket in this picture is his Binney.

Happy Birthday, Shepard.

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  • Reply Merrick April 15, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    What a great post…People are probably wondering why I’m crying while I sit here in the JSB.

  • Reply Tristen April 15, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    That was a wonderful post about Shepard. It brought back lots of memories about your great family so I was also crying while I read it. I just love your family!

  • Reply audrey April 15, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    What a touching story; thank you for sharing it with us.

    And happy birthday, Shepard.

  • Reply the one about Jenae and Seth April 15, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Thank you for telling that story. I really loved it. I really miss you elf

  • Reply Noelle April 15, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    That was a great story and brings tears to my eye as well. Thank you for sharing it. (I also didn’t realize that Lincoln died or the titanic sunk on this day!)

  • Reply Corbett Family April 15, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing that story. I will now have a different perspective when I am searching the house for my boys’ “snugglies” that they sleep with (I was just doing that very thing for Jake’s nap time).

  • Reply Becca and Ty April 15, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Uhm, I didn’t mean to end up crying after reading your blog today. You usually have me in stitches. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Kristi April 15, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Talk about yanking the tears right out. What a sweet boy and a sweet story. I love the picture.

  • Reply David & Sammy April 15, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing that story. I probably would have cried anyway but now that Ashton has gone through story I can understand a tiny bit more about how hard that must have been on your parents and family. But what a brilliant idea that your dad wrote a book so you could all remember him and these specific stories.

  • Reply Heather April 15, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    I am so pleased that your father was able to write a book about him so soon, while the memories were all fresh. It must’ve been very difficult, but what a treasure it is now. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Packrat April 15, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    What a sad, but beautiful memory. What a beautiful child! Happy birthday, Shepard. God Bless.

  • Reply David Grover April 16, 2008 at 12:12 am

    It’s my dad’s birthday today too (so I knew about the that stuff). Also, its Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday.

  • Reply Sheyenne April 16, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Janssen, thanks for sharing that story. I’m also in tears. It makes me think of Roman and his blanket that he rubs. Also, today is little Dario’s birthday, so it’s a special day for me too. Happy Birthday to Shepard. What a beautiful boy.

  • Reply smarteze April 16, 2008 at 2:47 am

    Thank you…

  • Reply amber marie belmonte April 16, 2008 at 3:05 am

    janssen, that was beautiful. i really didn’t expect to cry from reading your blog today. i actually read your post earlier & since then, you/your family have been on my mind all day. Happy birthday to Shepard! He was such a beautiful child & he is an amazing spirit! Thank you for sharing this.

  • Reply Nina G April 16, 2008 at 5:01 am

    So many lovely memories of Shepard. It makes me smile just to remember the Binney. A big part of our lives for quite a long time. And now just a memory. But a good one. Thank you for sharing, sweetie. Time does make everything easier. And what a blessing the gospel is, of course.

  • Reply Earl & Vickie April 16, 2008 at 5:14 am

    The good memories are the best ones. The binney sounds like a good memory and this is a good place for it.

  • Reply Miriam Higginson April 16, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Think I’ll go and grab my book about Shepard and read it again today (as if I didn’t cry enough just now!) Thanks for the reminder of the day. Love ya.

  • Reply Kristy April 16, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Also fighting tears. What a beautiful boy.

  • Reply One Smart Cookie April 16, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Reply heidikins April 16, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    This is such a sweet post; thank you for sharing.


  • Reply chelon:) April 16, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    love it! thanks for sharing! xoxo

  • Reply Kassie April 16, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    I’m crying. that’s amazing that your dad was able to write a book after such a personally tragic event.

  • Reply Meleah April 17, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    what a beautiful post, it was written so well I feel like I now share this little memory with you.

  • Reply aaron & allee April 17, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Janssen, what a touching post. Reading about your sweet little brother brought tears to my eyes. How wonderful to know you will be together again!

  • Reply Jen Robinson April 18, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Wow, Janssen! Thanks for the reminder about what’s really important. I have tears in my eyes, too.

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