Monday, March 03, 2008

The Quilter Friend Speaks

When I posted about Elijah's quilt, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from the woman who so lovingly made it. We have managed to stay in touch over the years (I cared for her children years ago but they are growing up now...) but we have had an astonishingly difficult time arranging in-the-flesh visits, even though we live but three miles apart. So I was a-flutter to see Nancy's comment, and an extensive and heartfelt email exchange has been born and continues from that

I asked her today if I could use part of her email as a sort of 'guest poster', and she obliged, because she is a very nice person and believed me when I said I was still wrung out from last night's post. I speak the truth.

I asked Nancy (and another friend of hers also posed the question) if she would ever do it again. I was almost afraid of crediting her, in case someone else asked her to do the same thing. I can tell you, the volunteers are not lining up for this job.

My surprising answer to this one is that I would do it again. I know that
I told you at the time that I wouldn't, and I truly hope that I never get asked
again, because I wouldn't want anyone to need a quilt like that; but I
would be willing to do it again, because it sounds like it's been helpful for
you to have.

Okay, like I said before. Tender. Hearted. Friend.

And then I asked this:

"It really was hard to do, wasn't it? Was it harder to cut up the clothes or to put them together?"

Here is her answer:

As for making the quilt, yes it was difficult to do. I think that I
told you about the knit issue because I didn't want to face how emotionally hard
it was. It was getting started that was the hardest. I think I
actually put the quilt together in about a week once I started cutting. It
felt sacrilegious to cut into his clothes. I saved all the feet from the
footed outfits, really wanting to find a way to put them into the quilt.
For some reason those were the most poignant for me, those tiny feet.
I cried a lot when making his quilt. It was actually quite cathartic that week of
cutting and then sewing.

I can see now that the anger at trying to line up
the points was more anger about the whole situation, that Elijah had died and
that was what was prompting the quilt. It was so much easier to blame it
on the fabric issues that look at why I was truly angry. (I also felt
incredibly guilty that I had never made a quilt for him when he was alive.
I still don't know why I didn't. I have a story that it was because things
were so chaotic in my life that I just wasn't really in touch with you, but I
honestly don't know.) And then as it started to come together I felt such
peace and joy coming from the quilt. I could feel him watching me.
It didn't feel at all eerie, but I didn't know how you'd take it if I told you,
so I chose not to.

Nancy, thank you again. You really should start a blog to chronicle the beautiful (hundreds?) of quilts that you have made and the stories behind them. I know I told you that there is danger in sharing the gifts...the danger that someone would someday have to ask you to do it again.

You are a brave and gifted and talented woman. Thank you for being my friend. I never wondered why I didn't get a quilt before. You are so generous, that you have guilt for not giving something that was never expected. That's wrong.
You can not know how crazily comforted I am to hear that you were angry at the situation. I was so sick of pats on the shoulder from everyone. We take this moment to bring you a Public Service Announcement:

Here's a little nugget of bereavement advice for everyone:
Allow room for the anger.
Thank you, that's the end of today's PSA on grief and other really bad stuff.

And one more thing. Nancy - thank you for saving the tiny little feet.


Green Kitchen said...

I love her.

nailgirl said...

That's awesome! I like how she said that she was angry too. I also had always wondered the specifics about Elijah's death, but was afraid to ask. Thank you for being brave enough to post about it.

Indigo Children said...

Beautiful. Thank you both for sharing so honestly. You may never know the value (to others) that your words, your honesty has.

I began reading your blog this past summer (i may have commented before, but mostly I lurk--I guess). But I am moved/changed by your authenticity.

I am constantly amazed at the importance of connection in writing/ blogging; it is so valuable-- to both the writer/blogger and the reader.

I cannot know what it is like to be you, but I think about your loss; I wonder what it would feel like to lose my son (who is currently 13 months old). I marvel at your courage while I damn the pain that brought it forth.

Indigo Children said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tricia said...

Wow. Go Nancy. I am sure Elijah was watching, checking out his clothes, making sure she put them together the "right way".

G. I'm so with you on the anger thing- I just want to slap people who say "It was Gods plan" or whatever... How about, "It's not fucking fair or right!"

Way better.