Never Forgetting

This one is for my family.  Every single one of you. 

But especially for Maika.

Yesterday, I went to my mom's house to help sew quilt blocks into a tiny, pink and white quilt.  Meanwhile, my cousins and aunts in northern Utah and my cousins and aunts in southern Utah were doing the same thing at their mothers' houses.  We already knew the pattern.  Nine-patch and snowball blocks, this time in soft pink rather than blue.  Tragedy has come again.

For days I've thought my heart would break.

There at my mother's house with my fingers filled with fabric and my eyes filled with tears, I sat across from my Aunt Tori who read a text message from her daughter, Melissa.  Melissa wrote a note about how quickly our family can mobilize in a crisis.  If you want two hundred people fasting and praying for you within the hour, just call Aunt Jane.

We got the call on Saturday night.  And so we went to our knees.  All of us.  We gathered in circles in homes and in bedrooms all over the country and went to our God, for help, for miracles, for peace. 

By the next day, it was clear that we would need even more help, more miracles, more peace because Maika's little girl was taken home to heaven.  We went to our knees and cried.  It was all we could do in the face of so much grief and so much heartache. 

The day after that, we quilted. 

In that place, where the pain is so heavy and so hot, we try to comfort in the only way we know how.  One stitch at a time we try to bind up the wounds that cannot be bound.  One block at a time, we add our pleas for solace and our tears to hers.  In this small act of love, we try to to say:  See this?  In this snowball block, see that you are not alone.  In this nine-patch, see our love and prayers.  In this beautiful border, see us encircled tight around you.  See this?  In this finished quilt, see our faith in an eternal plan that is bigger than this terrible moment.  In this binding, see the sure hope of our covenants.

The fabric we used is called "Elizabeth's Letters."  It was designed by my Aunt Jill, who created a fabric line using a letter that our great-great grandmother wrote to her daughter when she left Switzerland for America.  The soft pink fabric in the quilt has the very words of that letter, in our great-great-grandmother's handwriting.  It was a letter written by a mother as her three girls left their homeland forever, unsure if she would see them again in the flesh.  It read in part: 

Memory and farewell words from your never forgetting mother.  This is written to you, Margritha.

If I didn't know that you are going to Zion, and also taking Zion with you, it would break my heart, but I know and am convinced that you are going to Zion.  Pray for the ones who stay behind...

A goodbye letter from a mother to her daughter, stitched into a quilt for another mother who must now say goodbye to her very own daughter.  Our hearts would break were we not convinced she was going to Zion.  See this?  In this fabric, see your heritage of faith in the face of loss and fear.  See this?  In the lines of farewell, see the evidence of your nobility, your bravery, your destiny.

This morning as I stood in the shower, I sobbed.  For my cousin's pain, for her unbelievable grief, for her unfathomable loss, for both she and her husband...the ones who stay behind.

And as I stood there crying, I remembered another letter.  One which my own grandmother had written as a farewell to each of us.  It was read at her funeral and these words came like fire to my heart this morning:

There is only one thing I will hate about leaving--I will hate to leave all of you here.  I will miss you so, but we will be watching over you and trying to help you over the rough spots.  My Dear Ones, I'm sure that many of you, or your little ones, will be tested sorely as the scriptures are fulfilled about the trials of the last days.  I can give you one bit of advice which I have come to love:  "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."

Sorely tested, indeed.  Remembering her words only made me sob harder, because I could feel her love and care.  "Yes," I prayed, "help us over the rough spots."  I could feel heaven's hand and the powerful reassurance of eternal covenants.  I trust that the heavens are full of our "never forgetting mothers."  Those who see our pain.  Who see our grief.  Who try to help us over the rough spots.

This morning I begged heaven to send an army of angels.

I am certain I know who will be leading that charge.