Quilt retreat is over and I am lonely.
Melancholy is setting in.
I think this makes David crazy. (Add it to the list.) But I can't help myself. It will be another year before I am surrounded by women who are so kind they will leave their own projects to gather around me, pick up a needle and thread, and help me sew a hundred leaves onto a tree, just because I bit off more than I can chew. Three hundred and sixty-one days before I will be in a room with women who understand my delusions of grandeur (because they have their own) and empathize with my over-full plate. Their love humbles and quiets me.
My cousin, Sarah, is burying her baby today.
The tiny casket will be draped with a beautiful and simple quilt that we made together. Nine patches and snowball blocks in soft blue and white. Stitching out our thoughts and prayers, to comfort her in her grief, to add our tears to hers, to let her know that she is not alone.
My cousin, Amy, will play her harp, and my aunts and their daughters will wrap their arms around Sarah, and as far around her grief as they can get.
They are angels. Doing what they can to ease the staggering pains of earth life.
There are no words for the love I have for these women. These who share my burdens and listen to my sorrows and regrets, and help me create a better, sweeter life for my family. My burdens do not compare with Sarah's, and yet I felt just as comforted and cared for in my own simpler struggles, as she will surely feel today.
On Thursday, we stood in a room full of quiet sewing machines and still scissors and wet cheeks, and listened as my Aunt Jill described the short and perfect life of her grandbaby, and Sarah's amazing courage and testimony.
In a roomful of this many women there is not a life experience that someone else cannot understand.
We have lost houses, and children, and husbands. We have been sick and afflicted and close to death. We have had babies who won't sleep, or nurse, or keep anything down. We have had children with disabilities, and cancer, and addictions. We have miscarried, and birthed, and adopted. We have shared experiences, and prayers, and kidneys. We have husbands who have lost their hair, and their jobs, and their faith. We have built houses, and remodeled, and made do. We have sent children to kindergarten, to college, and on missions. We have been robbed, and raped, and defrauded. We've held each other's babies, each other's secrets, and each other's hair as we've thrown up through the first weeks of pregnancy and well into the thirty-seventh week for some. We have waited for the telephone, for test results, and for miracles. We have buried our grievances, our dreams, and our loved ones. We have built, and feathered, and emptied our nests. Our children have broken their bones, and their curfews, and our hearts. We have cried at weddings, and graduations, and reunions. We have ironed, and scrubbed, and washed, and woken up to do it all over again. Our wombs have felt kicks and contractions and more than one heartbeat. We have been acquainted with death, and infertility, and the first moments of life. In this one room there is a world of grief, and joy, and understanding.
There is not a safer, sweeter, more sacred place to be.
And whether you are overwhelmed by your to-do list or your aching grief, these women come to your aid. It is no wonder to me that it was the women in the Savior's life that were the last ones at the cross and the first ones at the tomb. They understand. And they reach out to help.
David always wonders why I cut up all my fabric into a million little pieces only to sew it back together again. To make something beautiful, I say. When it really comes down to it, my life is just scraps. Nothing of worth to anyone outside of it looking in. And yet, through my careful work, it may turn into something beautiful. And all of these women--my sisters, my mother, my cousins, my aunts, my grandmother--will have contributed to that creation, just like my quilts. They encourage me, they stitch with me, and perhaps most importantly, they even unpick and sew-it-back-together-again with me. My life, and my quilts.
Quilt retreat is over, but I feel its magic around me. I feel dressed and bandaged. Healed and lifted. I am hoping that Sarah feels the same today.