The backing to the quilted squares of my childhood. At times scratchy and uncomfortable; often times well worn, beloved and soft, like the snowy down from the underbelly of the gander. She was as traditional and as untraditional as she could be. She was as cruel as she was kind, as aloof as she warm, as penitent as she was indifferent. She clung to her children as if they were the only raft keeping her afloat. By the time I was in 4th grade she had 4 children, two of whom were adopted from Korea, had opened her own children's clothing store and was mis-diagnosed, then diagnosed with the one of the most advanced stages of breast cancer. I think there must have been days when she longed to crawl back under the quilted covers of her youth; to wrap herself in something else other than what the stars had scribbled out for her across the sky, or at least to discover a meaning and explanation for the long hours her waking days were made of. But the answer to her questions never came, yet somehow she moved forward anyway; sometimes without much grace and an overly bitter taste in her mouth, but she was moving. forward. anyway.
I wonder, if she was living her life now, if she was a mother among my peers, if her oldest was at school with my 4th grader, where she would be. How would the fates sew her life if she was living it through these years of pink empowerment, "leaning in" women gatherings and inspirational TED talks? Would she finally have time to stop, rest and just be? Cling a little less to her children and her desire for perfection? Would she embrace a bit better the messiness that Life is? I don't know. She was not a child of this age, but from a time before that.
I imagine her Shade walking along the playground, fetching us after school, the ghosts of my childhood. Glimpses of her in the setting sun amongst the swings and slides. Standing there, arms crossed, loving the small, scattered, laughing children ghosts so. Wishing she could scoop us back up into her arms, afraid if she held us close we would disappear, but that if she didn't she would fade into the night.
So here I am, with small traces of her life left inside my heart. I am not a cobbler. I am not a quilter. I am left with only the small tools I have, the small attempts at re-writing her story, not able to relive it.
I cannot sew, but I string together words along a thread, a quilting bee of her life.