(Nathaniel Grann/For The Washington Post)

Kate Passow

34, Ashburn, manager and paramedic

When I was 9 my grandparents gave me an L.L. Bean sleeping bag for Hanukkah. I had gone to camp the previous summer and had only my dad’s old, ratty sleeping bag to use for overnights. Over the years the L.L. Bean bag spent many nights at camp and slumber parties, full of teenage dreams about the fun of leaving home, before I put it away when I went off to college.

As I grew older I got involved in emergency medical services, with many overnight shifts at the rescue station or at work. The bag became a permanent fixture in the trunk of my car ready to provide a safe place to sleep.

As I’ve moved up at an ambulance company, I spend less time staying overnight, but the bag has remained in the car in case of emergencies. Last year, numerous EMTs calling in sick forced me to cover shifts on the ambulance and roll out the bag.

It was while curled up in the sleeping bag that I received the text from my mom telling me that my grandmother had died.

It was true from the start and continues today: Sleeping in that bag provides me with the warmth and protection of family no matter how far away I am from them.

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