Wednesday, March 1, 2017
"Quilted with Love"...from Rowan and I, to you Keiba, Justin and family...
I am not going to apologize this time, for how long it has been since my last blog post. I am learning that I can only do what I can do. This has been the MOST difficult time in my entire life, and it probably always will be...at least I hope so, because I cannot imagine anything worse. However, I am doing my best to find things that honor Rowan's life...things that would make him proud...moments I know he would love to be here for.
This past Sunday, I was able to have one of those moments. I was able to meet my friend, and fellow mother of an angel child, at the cemetery...the cemetery where both our sons have been laid to rest...both within this past year.
Justin and Rowan shared doctors, spent time at the same hematology/oncology clinic and hospital in San Antonio, and then our families shared their Ferrari Kids Event together. None of us could have imagined that we would both lose our sons within the year though. Justin passed away from Leukemia a few short weeks later, Rowan from transplant related complications several months after. This is not a club you want to belong to, but a bond that solidifies mother's hearts instantaneously.
Keiba and I met again for lunch, just a week or two before Rowan and I left for Seattle. I love to make quilts, and have especially felt led to make memory quilts for parent's who have lost children. I never dreamed I would be in that group myself, but I have just always felt led to bless parents by honoring the life they gave their children, however short it may have been, with something they could look at for years to come. I either used photos on the quilts or the child's clothes...whatever the family felt ok giving me.
Justin's mom gave me a huge laundry basket of his clothes. She told me not to worry about when I worked on it. She told me I could wait until Rowan and I returned from Seattle, etc. But I just did not feel right leaving his belongings back home in Texas when I knew Rowan and I could be in Seattle for months during transplant, so I packed them up in a tub and took them with me on our road trip to Seattle.
After Rowan's first stem cell transplant, maybe a month or two in, he and I started working on the quilt for Justin's Mom. Right there in his hospital room. I cut the squares from his clothes. I got permission to use my sewing machine in his room. Rowan and I prayed over each and every square. Rowan helped me choose where to place each square in the first 12 rows...until he became too ill to do so. Once he was moved to PICU for those final 2 months, I had to pack it all up and move it back to my van. But before that, Rowan and I put so much love and time into that quilt.
After Rowan passed away, we brought his body home, had his memorial service, his celebration of life, and buried him...that unfinished quilt sat in the corner of my room for weeks. But I kept feeling Rowan telling me... "Mom, it's gonna help his mommy so much...finish it." So during this past month, I completed the final three rows, made the back, layered the batting and backing to the quilt top, and hand quilted the entire blanket together. It wasn't just for Keiba. It helped me too. At this point I cried and prayed for both Justin and for Rowan, with each stitch. And I know it made Rowan so very proud once I finally finished this blanket for Justin's Mommy.
This past Sunday, I met Keiba at the cemetery where both our boys remains are laid to rest. Here are the photos of her seeing the quilt for the first time. We sat for nearly an hour before I even pulled it out of the bag. We cried. We held hands. We shared memories of our boys. We talked about how we are dealing with this immense grief and loss. We started at Rowan's gravesite...we ended up at Justin's. I have asked her permission to share these photos. I am not trying to boast about the quilt. Sure, I made it, well...Rowan and I did. However, it was made nearly 100% from his clothing. The backing and batting are all that I added. My hope is that each piece of cloth bring back a memory for their family. It included material from his robe, his pillow cases, his swim trunks, sweaters, jeans, t-shirts, gym shorts, boxers, hats, socks, spider man costume, etc. It turned out so special. Not because of me, but because of the beautiful life they gave him in his short 12 years, and because of the memories God gifted them with in that timeframe
Here are photos of when Rowan was helping me in Seattle, telling me where to place each square of Justin's clothes...I know his family will cover themselves in this blanket often and feel Justin's love, but I will also never forget the time I spent with Rowan making it and praying over it...so it fills my heart with love too.
Here are some close ups of the many different squares, each with a special memory for his family. Thank you God for the life you gave Justin...though short...it was certainly special, memorable and filled with love.
Once I folded Justin's quilt to place it in the gift bag, I immediately noticed something special. "Risen in Power" was one square that Keiba wanted to make sure I included from the sleeve of one of Justin's shirts. Then, I noticed that the Lego "HOPE" square was also front and center...which I of course saw as a sign from Rowan (aka "Hope"). This photo made me feel so peaceful inside. As I mentioned, Rowan told me where to place each and every square in those first 12 rows, before he passed away...I don't take that lightly that both Justin and Rowan were represented in that first quadrant...I immediately thanked God, and Rowan, and Justin...for confirming their presence...still...
I love you Keiba, my sister in Christ...and your entire family. Thank you for your friendship as we navigate these difficult waters. Thank you for coming alongside me. And thank you Jesus for 12 years with Justin and 10 years with Rowan. Until we see them again in Heaven...