Monday, October 14, 2013

… a quilt i never wanted to make

heart quilt front

it's hard to find the words to talk about this quilt, but i wanted to share it because it's special to me. a few weeks ago, one of our dear friends died of a heart attack, just a couple of weeks shy of his 42nd birthday. he was so young, so healthy (a former professional dancer turned dance teacher), so happy, so vibrant, so sincere. so it was, and still is, a shock. and while my heart is breaking for the loss of him from the world, and selfishly for the loss of him from my own life, my heart is breaking even more so over the fact that his wife, also our dear friend, and his 4-year-old son have been left behind to figure out how to go on living life without him.

what makes this extra hard for me is that they now live in the netherlands, and while my initial instinct was to jump on the next plane to be with them, being in the last few weeks of pregnancy makes this an impossibility for me. the day after he died, i was sitting around cycling through a rollercoaster of emotions, and landed on the thought, "what can i do for them?" and, being a quilter, it suddenly seemed obvious that though i can't be there to physically wrap my arms around them to show my love and grief, i might be able to send a quilt that they can wrap around themselves. while i know a quilt is no substitute for a husband and a friend and father, it comforts me to think that our friend and her son can snuggle under it together and possibly feel my love from the other side of the world.

i'm not even sure how to explain how the design came about as i normally might. i guess a heart might seem cheesy, but it felt like i was sending them a huge expression of my love for them, for their lost family member, for my lost friend. and it also represents the impact our friend left on the world. i know when people talk people who have died it's easy to overlook shortcomings and focus only on the good, but i can't even begin to say how essentially good our friend was. always smiling, always interested in everyone around him, always showing nothing but love for his family, always the best sport in our weekly summer croquet games, always emanating a kind of light and warmth and love that you could almost feel and see when you were around him. so i quickly sketched out this heart, that to me glows with warmth, and made it so big as to be the entirety of the quilt. i also wanted it to be simple enough that i could finish it quickly and use what i had on hand. it's constructed of 3-1/2" squares and half-square triangles. the final size is about 67 x 70, a generous lap quilt.

heart quilt back

the back is one of the happiest prints i could find, anna maria horner's sketchbook in ivory from the hand drawn garden collection. in fact, it's so happy i think i want to use it on everything now.

heart-quilt-binding

it's bound in a martha negley print called holly light snow in red from her holiday collection, poinsettia and holly. i found it at drygoods design after realizing that, once again, nothing in my stash was at all right.

i quilted it with sandie on her long arm with my favorite spiral pattern. sandie was so sweet to let me come over and do this one relatively quickly. and i just love how the combination of the patchwork heart and the swirly quilting look together.

while i'm not sure i necessarily feel better having finished this to send to our friend, i do feel like i've at least tried to show her our love and support. i'll be honest, making this quilt has made me really sad and it a little hard to look at objectively (i'm sorry to anyone who has asked me in person about the quilt and gotten a vague answer... it's just been too hard to talk about this out loud), i'm happy that at least i was able to do something tangible. and i'm sure that's not something i need to explain to any other quilter out there who has ever made a quilt out of love.

23 comments:

  1. Prayers for you and his family. That's really hard. We recently lost a friend to an accident. It's crazy how quickly things can change. It's a beautiful quilt and I'm sure it will bring them comfort.

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  2. What a beautifully written post. The quilt is indeed special and was an incredibly sweet gesture. I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. Sending you a big hug.

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  3. Sending you lots of love and hugs, honey. Beautiful quilt, and you're a beautiful friend.

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  4. So so sorry for the loss of your friend. This is a lovely gesture made up in fabric and thread, and I trust it will convey your love to your friends. Thanks for sharing from the heart...

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  5. i'm so sorry for your loss - never easy and words never really help. your quilt is stunning though, and i'm sure a comfort that will be with them for years to come. ::hugs::

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  6. A beautiful expression of your love. Well done!

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  7. how devastating... that urge to do something is so powerful. i suspect it is part of our process for dealing with the profound grief, as well. what a beautiful, beautiful quilt.

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  8. That is so sad and the quilt is so beautiful at the same time. I recently lost a friend under tragic circumstances as well and it is so hard. My heart goes out to his family.

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  9. Your love for your friend and his family shines so strong in this post. And I know that a quilt seems so small in the face of so much sadness, but I have no doubt that his loved ones will see that your quilt is a manifestation of all the goodness that he brought to this world. And it sure sounds like it was a lot.

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  10. I'm so, so sorry about your friend. The quilt is lovely, AraJane.

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  11. the quilt is beautiful, but the meaning behind it even more so.

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  12. I read this post while in shock about my husband going through something similar. This is such a beautiful way to reach out to their family.

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  13. You are truly a wonderful friend. I am sorry for your loss. I too had something like this happen to me. I had already started a quilt for my wonderful father in law. Sadly he passed away before I finished it.

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  14. This is a beautiful quilt made by a beautiful and thoughtful lady, such a lovely gesture Ara Jane. It's a wonderful therapy that we weave.

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  15. Arajane, it is beautiful...all of it, your quilt, your friendship, how emotional it's made you in these last weeks of being pregnant. I do hope you are well and I look forward to giving you a big hug soon.

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  16. you have a heart to rival his. i love you and am so so sorry for this loss. my heart breaks for his family. may all the light and love in the world bring peace to you and to his devastated family!

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  17. I'm so so sorry about the untimely and devastating loss of your friend, Ara Jane. The quilt is absolutely beautiful, as are you--you're such a thoughtful, sincere, and sweet friend to do that. I hope you're holding up okay in these weeks leading up to your due date. *Big Hug*.

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  18. It's times like these that life doesn't make a bit of sense. I hope the quilt makes its way there safely and serves as a reminder of your love.

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  19. Amazing quilt Ara Jane - very special. I know it will be appreciated and loved.

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  20. The idea of sending them some love via this quilt is really nice. The quilt is wonderful, too.
    A couple years ago I made a card thinking of my husband's uncle who died and whom we all liked very much. It was hard making this card. But looking back at it I think it helped a little 'though like you I was very sad.
    A sunbeam from Germany from me to you.
    Franziska

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  21. So sorry for you and those dear to you. What a special quilt.

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  22. So sorry for the loss of your friend. The quilt is radiating, so beautiful.

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