This past fall I had the honour of working on projects that broke my heart, while at the same time filling it with a sense of purpose.
Most of my projects, as you may know, are memory quilts. Clients are consistently excited and happy. If this is you, you've likely saved your children's clothing, sometimes for years. You store them in boxes and bags, culling down to a manageable amount, visiting and re-visiting them again and again. You've searched extensively for someone to make your quilt and eventually found me. Sometimes you contact me right away, sometimes you wait. And when we begin our project together, it is an experience that bubbles with anticipation.
Memory quilts are full of eagerness and joy, of love and sentimental memories, of dreams about tomorrow and the desire to never forget yesterday (if you've had one made, I'm sure you'll agree).
Memorial quilts are quite different.
Memory quilts are made with someone's first clothes.
Memorial quilts are made with someone's last clothes.
I won't pretend that these projects don't have a huge impact on me. I feel a strong sense of connection when I'm working on my quilts and working on a memorial quilt brings up all sorts of personal memories and thoughts on life and loss. I feel deeply for my clients. I feel deeply in general. So it goes without saying that their stories become a part of who I am. And I am grateful for that. Grateful to have the opportunity to provide some solace to people in their grief by creating something they can use to wrap themselves in the memories of their loved one.
When my grandma died most of her clothes were donated, but I asked my mom to put aside some pieces for me. I wasn't sure why at the time, I just felt like I had to hold on to them. To be honest, it was more like I couldn't let go of them. Her belongings were my last physical link to her. They mean a lot to me. I know it can't be possible, as they've been washed and years have passed since I lost her, but her clothes still smell like her. They bring me back in time and I can feel her when I look at them and hold them and smell them. They bring me some small bit of peace. They wait for the time when I'll be ready to make a quilt out of them for myself. And I look forward to that day, so that I too can wrap myself in a love I have not forgotten, and that I miss desperately.
Until then, I check in on them from time to time and count myself lucky that I get to do something for others that is so meaningful and fulfilling.
What have you held on to to remember?
Maker of things. Lover of colour and texture and contrast. Thinker & creator. Daughter, sister, partner, mother, friend. Mighty woman.