I want to tell you a story about my friend J’s quilt. She showed it to me yesterday and told me how her mother made a quilt for each of the children that was like an illuminated manuscript telling the stories of their lives. But J’s was the most ornate and detailed – it even had her car accident in it, and when I looked at it yesterday, I said oh I guess your mom was mad and J said no it’s my mom’s sense of humor that she wanted to capture even my mistakes.
I sighed when she said that and he did too and later in the car I said, you know I felt so unworthy at that moment, and he said because you looked at the quilt and you wondered what it would be like if your mother loved you that much? I said yes and he said but the fact that you weren’t and I wasn’t either doesn’t make us unworthy, it just makes J lucky and we shouldn’t go there—go to where you are going – because really we had such a nice time.
So I didn’t go there. or at least I didn’t go there much. Because everyone has something going on that’s hard. and J has had hard things happen with her health and other things probably because everyone has those hard things, and we did indeed have such a nice time at J’s house which has 3 floors with a nice husband and a lot of bikes, and 2 children going in and out turning the doorknobs easily with tiny hands, going out and over to the neighbors or just standing on the porch playing with sand.
The quilt of J’s life makes me think of making things for people we love. I make things for people I love all the time: I knit things, and write things, and give them to people I care about so they will know — aka have a physical manifestation of — how much I love them including the accidents and the mistakes. And I listen to them when they talk too. Sometimes I hope that my listening is a kind of telling a kind of keeping so that the people I love know that I will love them forever and always, and that the emotion hangs on all the walls of their most secret houses. And the love has stories in it, a sense of humor and it’s a present to be shared with people they love too, and so it’s kind of growing fabric, a patchwork in progress that never ends. Thinking about that unfurling project, I can wrap myself up in it and him too, because everyone needs a quilt like J’s, and it’s ok, if we have to create our own.