How do I begin the attempt at writing about this particular quilt?
It carries for me a sense of closure, and yet into its making I poured so many complexities of my heart, feelings and wrenchings and delights and great sorrows, that that closure is superficial at worst, temporary at best. Though life has layered many profound experiences since its making, still a dull ache remains, like the ten drops of wine removed from a Seder glass in recognition that some sadness, while not significantly affecting the feast, is still there. Yet we do not cease to celebrate because of it.
I miss a land that was mine for a moment, a family made quickly, friends who forever changed me. Northern England did a number on me.
And so I made this quilt for the Mama of the house in which I lived and served. She requested one, and I planned the design, bearing in mind her tastes. At the last minute, I felt it needed to be hand-tied, reflecting the choice to give the best of me, piece by piece, knot by knot.
Originally I entrusted it to a certain friend, a fellow American who came home just long enough to get her visa in order. But circumstances changed, and thus, though I completed the quilt in March of last year, it took another friend’s visit – this one with plane tickets already in hand – to carry it safely home to its intended recipient.
A few days ago, my inbox surprised me with a short video from Sunderland: Mama of the house receiving her quilt, sending her love, brought to tears by the gift.
Even now, I do not pretend to comprehend all the impact of those months in England. But I have a sense of settling, deep within, and a knowing in my bones that I have been through fire and seas and come out again, having given the best from the depths of me, and coming out richer for it.