Sunday, September 11, 2011

I've been sewing today.  It is September 11, 2011 and ten years ago today, the course of history seemed to take a sharp turn, pulling all of us into a different place.  For a moment, I'd like to talk about why sewing and 9/11 are linked in my mind.

On September 9 of 2001, my friend Debbie and I went to the first session of a quilting class given by a prominent local quilter named Donna Radnor.  The class was based on a pattern that Donna had developed called "Fractured Log Cabin."  I had totally misunderstood the way I was supposed to prepare for the class, brought fabrics and scraps that were not going to work in the pattern and ended up feeling a little desperate.  However, not all was lost:  I had a couple of things that would work and Debbie had a few things that went with my fabrics and I got started.

Two days later, the towers were struck, the Pentagon was hit, a field in Pennsylvania was destroyed.  We, the entire United States, went into shock.  And I set aside my quilt.  One of the things I have learned over the years  is that you  sew your emotions into your quilts.  I knew that if I worked on this quilt while the shock was fresh, I would never want to touch it or look at it again. So, I waited.  The class was taught in two sessions, two weeks apart.  I waited until the second session on September 23rd to buy the rest of my fabrics and decide where I wanted to take that quilt.

In January of 2002, Debbie and I went to New York City to visit the World Trade Center site.  It was cold and snowy.  Pay phones in lower Manhattan still did not work.  Debbie and I ate lunch and then went to visit The City Quilter, a fabric shop where I bought fabric to back my quilt.  At the end of our day, we went Ground Zero.  The site was active, but the smoke and dust were long gone.  The makeshift memorials still lingered, lining the sidewalks. It was quiet and solemn and empty, those buildings just gone.

I finished my Fractured Log Cabin quilt a few months after that.  I am glad that a large piece of that quilt came from New York City.  It is probably one of the best things I've ever made.  Debbie, who continued working on hers through the crisis, never finished.

This week I've been listening to the radio as survivors have told their stories.  I've cried a little.  I've remembered Thomas.  And I have kept on sewing.  This evening I realized that I have put some of my grief into this new quilt, but also I have sewn in hope.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The story is up.  I like it a lot.  My Facebook friends seem to like it too.

I miss Thomas.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Here we are, almost two months later! Yes, it's been action-packed or not, depending on your point of view.
July. After much discussion and a long period of contemplation, we finally decided that it was time to put my mother-in-law into hospice care. She gets to remain home, but we are not treating her heart disease any further (the last time she went to the hospital, they didn't do anything anyway), just making her comfortable. We get visits from a nurse, a social worker and a chaplain who all make sure that everything is working the way it is supposed to. It is very odd and disquieting knowing that what we are preparing for here is a death, hopefully a peaceful death. The final straw came when I took her to her pulmonologist and even his testing set off an episode of short breath. He is a critical care specialist too, he knew what he was seeing. I hugged him goodbye and went home sure that we were making the right decision.
Carrying out that decision though is another matter. We are doing our best and mostly keeping things comfortable but this is very hard. Unless I want to start another blog, I won't be writing more about this, but it is difficult.
At the end of July, I went back to Washington state. I spent a week with friends and family and had a nice time. I did get to Fort Lewis and saw the Stryker Brigade memorial park, and the memorial with Thomas's name, in person. It is tucked away on post, but Anne and I did find it eventually (not sure we would have if it weren't for the fact that she had been assigned there in her youth). The park is small but peaceful and well laid out. The memorial stone had items, just the way that other memorials do--a lawn chair, a couple of canes painted like candy canes, and some little Christmas trees. I will try to post a picture with myself and these items.
And then back to Maryland and the reality of taking care of an elderly woman.
I have been watching (online and mostly on Facebook) a lot of non-profits who help soldiers, Wounded Warriors, families . . . all sorts of things. A lot of people are stepping up. I am still going to the Veterans Collaborative meetings and adding my $.02 from time to time. I did a telephone interview with the Colesville Patch last week with a picture to run as part of their observance of September 11th. Of course, in the meantime we've had a 5.8 earthquake and a brush with Hurricane Irene so I'm not sure I'll make it online after all. It's OK. Other moms have things to say too and they will get asked as well.
But in the meantime, I will admit that I am tired. I'll try to keep up with this a little better, because things have been happening after all (no soldiers were killed in Iraq in the month of August, the first time that has happened since March of 2003 I believe). I want to keep writing.

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