Quilt # 180
13-1/2″ wide by 20″ tall
That night, I was alone in bed in the guest room, five pillows behind me and one to each side, propping me up in a sitting position. I couldn’t lay down to sleep as it was too painful, so I semi-sat there, my head leaning back on the pillows, staring up at the ceiling.
My husband Dave had tucked me in that night, as he had done every night since the rotator cuff surgery three weeks earlier, helping me find the right position for the pillows, touching my cheek, making sure I knew he loved me, then turned out the light and walked down the hallway to our bedroom that now seemed oh, so far far away. I felt adrift on a sea of pillows.
I tried to shift slightly, trying to move to a more comfortable position: there wasn’t one. The pain pills they gave me from surgery had been effective, but unfortunately their side effect was ever-present weeping, so I’d ditched them a couple of weeks earlier, relying instead on acetaminophen, which barely tamped down the pain and discomfort. I was pretty much a mess.I gazed at the ceiling, waiting for that sleep that wouldn’t come — hadn’t come, since I’d moved from the uncomfortable recliner chair two days post-surgery and had come off the prescribed drugs. The light from the white Christmas lights we’d left in the laurel bush outside the window shone up through the slatted blinds, casting a linear design on the ceiling.
I studied that pattern of line-upon-line, trying to let it dissimulate the discouragement: there was three more weeks of the sling, the sleeplessness, the being away from my husband, the not-sewing, the one-handedness, the inability to be present in my own life, the trying to be cheerful for whole minutes at a time. Three more weeks of pain. Three more weeks of the uncomfortable sling and the loneliness. Three down, three to go.
The shadows were linear like the slats in the blinds: they started light, the bright lines gradually decreasing until the dark bands became more prominent, obliterating the light. Half shadow, half light. Half of each. The realization that I was halfway there settled into the cracks in my fractured thinking. The timer on the Christmas lights clicked off, all was shadow and I finally fell asleep, exhausted by the pain, the mental struggle — and, as anyone who has been through this knows — the isolation.Our theme this year is Light, and Camilla chose this quarter’s theme of Light in the Darkness. I certainly had time to think about it. I loved the nuance and the subtlety of it, and was glad to figure out how to interpret it.
There is no deconstruction post for this art quilt. I had to cut off lots of outside edges when I trimmed up my Piggies! quilt blocks, and used those pieces to make a “whole cloth” of low-volume prints to be my “ceiling” fabric, as we have those old-time popcorn ceilings with texture. Using flat white cloth didn’t seem right for what I had seen night-after-night. I also liked that all those blocks sent from my friends helped pull me along and out of the sadness and loved their significance in this quilt, and appreciated anew all the encouraging comments from those who cheered me on (thank you). The darkness seemed to have a texture of its own as well. I did indeed have time to study it, and thought this seed print from Australia would stand in well for the shadows seen by a quilter, staring at the ceiling, late into the night.
It’s my turn to announce the next theme so look for it in my next post. And my recovery? It’s going well. I’m now past the three-month mark and while occasionally achy, don’t have much pain. I go to physical therapy regularly. When I hit the 12-week mark, my therapist said, “You’re about halfway there.” I guess that finish line moves, depending on the perspective; I do expect at six months I will hear it again.
You’ll notice that the quilt is sometimes light-on-top and sometimes dark-on-top. I think it works either way.
Last thought: when I stood in the aisles at Road to California this past year, not buying anything, I hoped that by next year’s quilt conference I would be able to say it was all done and all behind me.
I still have that hope.
Please take the time to visit the other Four-in-Art Quilters in our Fifth year, as they interpret their visions of Light in the Darkness:
Betty Backyard Camping
All of our blocks are on our blog, Four-in-Art.
18 thoughts on “Halfway There”
The prospect of weeks ahead with pain and without sleep would have been horrible beyond words. I am so glad to hear that you are through the worst of it. May you never have to be in that situation again.
There’s nothing worst than not being able to sleep due to pain! Poor Elizabeth! I feel your pain. Here’s to the bright side of life!
I really felt for you as I read your post and am so glad that this awful time is mostly behind you! I love that you were able to translate some of your experience into the quilt in a way that’s both visual and metaphorical. I like it with the light to the top – the pattern on the dark fabric is fantastically turbulent, and as the dark sections get smaller I like the optimistic reading that those waves are gradually subsiding!
Great post, love your quilt. Expressing our lives in fabric is an amazing thing, many others don’t have such a form of expression. So sorry for your pain, I can truly empathize, as I’ve had two bad leg breaks, and understand the difficulty of the recovery process. For someone whose happiness is in their hands & use of them to create—-unimaginable. Good job, my friend!!! You’ve been thru the worst of it & it’s only going to get better and better! Wishing you health & healing!
I really love this “Four in Art” concept. And I am so sorry for the pain you experienced. (Sounds like your hubby is a gem!) You do beautiful work and your posts are so full of heart!❤️
I’ve never had a surgery or post-surgery experience that even comes close to what you’ve shared here. It sounds perfectly dreadful… I had no idea. It sounds like you’ve only “endured” to reach this point. Awful. I’m sorry you had to go through it, and glad you had a supportive husband. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to look at a quilt that was a result of that pain and isolation. Still, it seems to perfectly express your distress. Should I say, “That’s a well done quilt”? Seems a bit like rubbing salt in the wound.
Out of all the bad times, a beautiful quilt has emerged. You have made the most out of a miserable situation and it turned out so well. It captures your theme perfectly and using those left over low volumes to reflect the popcorn ceiling was genius!
Beautiful. I saw your sneak peeks on IG and was thrilled that you were able to use extras from the pig quilt. Gives it all an extra layer of meaning. I think we sometimes can’t see the light until we’ve been in the dark to know the difference. What a powerful quilt to recognize this time in your life. And the either way is up totally works.
I had no idea what all you were going through. Your quilt is a very meaningful interpretation of your experience and sharing your story enables us as readers to ‘feel’ your pain. I’m wishing you a total recovery and a pain free future.
Your post surgery pain and sleeplessness sounds truly awful, Elizabeth. My heart goes out to you and I really, really hope you are well past half way there now and, that with the physio, this will soon just be a distant memory with a beautiful quilt. I love the way your quilt captures both the light through your blinds and your story and, especially, I love the way you you can display it as sometimes light-on-top and sometimes dark-on-top. I hope the remainder of your recovery will always be light-on-top 🙂 x
You certainly captured the experiences of pain and hope, both visually and in words.
I have read all the previous comments, and they have all said it far better than I can. I am sorry your recovery has been such a struggle and pray that all of that is well behind you. Your quilt is poignant in is execution and meaning…
It’s one a.m. and I sit in my recliner recovering from wrist surgery. Unable to sleep and unable to sew and unable to play my piano (I’m a pianist in my real life). Thank you for writing this; it gives me hope that there is light shining through those dark times. As I’ve been awake (a lot!) I’ve been looking at quilts on the Internet and it does give me joy to begin planning my next project! Thank you for being an inspiration even through the difficult times!
And through it all, you knew, deep down, that the fog of pain would, finally, lift. And it has!!! This little quilt is such a poignant reminder of “the surgery” and years from now it will still be a reminder – so sweet. Well done and well done!
Your quilt is eloquent in its simplicity, and as always, your writing is so descriptive that I can nearly feel your pain.
Sounds like the light is indeed coming through that darkness! Phew! Great to see it represented here. Best wishes for the rest of your full recovery!
Looks like you have ambidextrous light and darkness my friend! I love this little trick with your Four In Art quilt. Sometimes we are the same way in life, a little darkness and a little light, all blending into each other. The fact that you used the white leftovers from your piggies quilt makes this quilt have another meaning too….. It’s friends in life that crowd out the darkness. I love the simplicity of the design.
I find it amazing where the artist finds inspiration. This mini quilt says so much. Is the glass half full or half empty? What you were able to create under less than workable conditions gives credit to your passion and desire to move ahead. We, too, have popcorn ceilings and like the texture of the fabric print you used to pass that view along. The write up is well done and enjoyable to read.