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.