I wish I had a freeze ray.
Last week a three year old boy on my street drowned in his family’s above ground pool. His parent’s say they left him alone for only a few minutes and he was riding his bike in the driveway when they last saw him.
That fast. Our babies they can be taken. That fast our loved ones can be gone.
I cried a little bit when I dropped off the macaroni and cheese casserole at his house. I was thankful his parents weren’t home, because the grief on the face of the man who was home? was almost too much for me. I tried not to cry in front of him. And as I drove down the driveway I thought of a little boy I didn’t know, who my own sons, age 3 and 5 would never meet.
Tonight my thoughts turn to another man I never met. Tom. But I have spent alot of time recently with his clothes.
Last summer I carried them in a black bag on a plane home from California I carefully cut them apart and sewed them back together over the last year. I cried a lot.
The hours of cutting and sewing and quilting were overwhelming in a way I had not expected. Several times I had to walk away from this quilt.
When I first offered to make this quilt, I barely knew Juls. Back then, Juls blog was a running blog. Serious running baby. Boston Marathon qualifying running.
Frankly it was a little bit daunting. I followed because my husband was also training for a Marathon and because her blog was easier to follow than some of the mile by mile training blogs.
Then one day her husband was sick and weeks later he was dead. I read her blog and was touched by her grief. Because grief. It is powerful. It reaches across the miles. It grabs your heart and squeezes it to this point where you feel like you can’t breathe. I cried for Juls, I cried for Tom, I cried for their sons. I cried for my sons, I cried for my husband and I cried for me.
The thing about the blogosphere is that it links us to strangers in a deep an emotional way (you know if you are capable of deep and emotional) that sometimes you don’t understand. I reached out in the only way and asked to be allowed to make this. These photographs were all taken by my very generous friend Jenica Lemmons.
After several months maybe years? Juls granted me the oppurtunity to do something for her, that helped me.
Each one of those rows of color is one of his shirts. Even the binding. That outer blue shirting (light blue ) had a note on it that said “So soft, it brought out the color of his eyes”. That shirt? Almost killed me. It was soft, and stretchy and kept moving around and was starched within an inch of it’s life. And then proved to be hard to quilt through. Grrr.
There are buttonholes, mended areas and small tears in the shirts (I mended them) because they are the shirts that Tom wore. I am very, very proud of this quilt, and very, very humbled to have been allowed to create it.
Strangely the quilt helped me in a lot of ways. I was almost finished piecing the top in February when we learned that our friend Erik had passed away in an accident. He left behind my friend and her two young daughters (one and four).
He was a runner, a healthy cross country coach. He died in a freak accident and it rocked my world. I reached out to Juls and asked for her advice on how to talk to my friend what to say. And she very graciously gave her advice and offered her email to my friend. She helped me walk through my own grief dealing with Erik’s loss.
Much of which was my own terror at the situation. The grief of watching my friend go on with her life and knowing that there but for the Grace of God….
Juls asked that I finish the quilt by Father’s day, and I breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday when I put this quilt in the mail to her, and then my heart stopped beating because I was so terrified something would happen to it.
She called this afternoon to say it had arrived. This weekend I’m very aware of my friends and family who are without their loved ones. The thought is overwhelming, and I cried a lot more while quilting Tom’s quilt. I cried this week for a little boy whose parents, like so many of us left him playing only to find him later, gone.
The grief that has touched Julie is not one I want to experience first hand. It is hard enough to watch it unfold. Either in a close friend, a neighbor, or in a friend, not so close who you may have only met in person twice, but to whom I talked to on the phone today.
Our conversation, like others threatened to stretch on indefinately….
Thank goodness for puking dogs and underwearless children, without whom we may still be on the phone.
Thank you for everything Juls.