Almost exactly three years ago I was given a most amazing gift. On an exquisite fall day, my family and I were lured to a friend’s home and given a quilt sewn together by dozens of friends and family members. Over the past 3 ½ years, we’ve been overwhelmed by many meaningful gifts bestowed on us in response to my illness. But this one takes the cake.
The friend who came up with the idea of a quilt told us that back when I was at my sickest, she had a vision of creating a quilt for us. She considered this vision her marching orders and used the entries on my Caring Bridge site to make contact with our friends and family about participating in making a quilt.
Mailing fabric, dropping off squares at various locations, even meeting prospective sewers clandestinely in coffee shops, our friend recruited a small army of sewers to help make her vision a reality.
During the summer I moved into remission, sewers sent completed squares back to our friend. A quilting frame went up in her living room, and unbeknownst to us, her family hosted quilting nights where our friends and family gathered to stitch this quilt together.
On that gorgeous fall day three years ago, our family was rendered speechless by this gift and the deep love radiating from our dear friends and family who had gathered to stitch it together for us.
After the guests left the quilting party, my friend pulled out her laptop and showed us her file labeled Quilt filled with over a hundred email messages pertaining to the quilt and the party. Even more names appeared of people who had worked on the project but couldn’t make the party.
The magnitude of this project exceeded my ability to take it in. That for over half a year people had worked on this gift—and that this friend in particular spent hundreds of hours designing, recruiting, mailing, sewing, and hosting—was beyond comprehension. What words are up to the task of expressing gratitude for a gift such as this?
When I made another feeble attempt to express my gratitude, my friend brushed it aside saying, “I’ve been blessed through the relationships I’ve developed along the way. This quilt has been a gift for us too.”
I sensed my friend really meant what she said. The atmosphere at the party had been unlike any celebration I’d ever attended; the undercurrent of joy seemed to sweep everyone along with it. The quilt project, it was apparent, had become more than just a gift for us. The loving act of creating the quilt had also given the sewers something in return.
Three years later, the quilt continues to radiate grace in our lives. Its presence on our bed reminds me daily of how I’ve been draped in the care of others throughout this journey. The quilt is also insistent in its claim that the demons of the night—anxiety, fear, despair—are ultimately not as powerful as the love and the hope stitched into its fabric.
Clearly it’s more than just a quilt. It’s also a tangible sign of the grace that can break through—and sometimes even overpower—the grief that accompanies lousy realities like cancer. And that’s why it’s a most amazing gift.