Some Thoughts on Our Nation’s Milestone

COVID-19 Map_ May 24_2020

For several months, I’ve awoken every morning, and looked at this map.  I remember when not every state had COVID-19, I remember when New York started spiking, I remember when we started our stay-at-home time some two months ago.

I was aware that we were coming closer to the milestone of 100,000 deaths during this pandemic, and I thought about all I’d read about the Spanish Flu when I was in graduate school and wrote a short story about a dancer and her young soldier who went off to war and never came home, felled by the influenza that ravaged the world in 1918.

But how would I choose to depict our losses in our pandemic?

Kentucky Death Quilt

from here

I’d seen death quilts, with little coffins neatly stitched, tucked away in their little graveyard or around the edges of quilt.  Or would I want to depict them as Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae did, in his poem Flanders Fields?In Flanders fields the poppies

 

But this past Sunday morning, I saw this:

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I read the article online, scrolling through the humanizing choice that this paper had made, to give a person’s name and a salient, interesting fact about them from their published obituary.

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At first it was just numbing, then I noticed this: a quilter.  I began to look for other quilters.

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I found several.

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And on one page, I found not only a quilter, but a “collector of people, laughter and good stories.”  It made me wonder: what one line would I want people to remember about me?  I found several intriguing qualities, and I reflected briefly on that person, especially the one who was “Faithful in corresponding through cards and handwritten notes.”  A woman after my own heart.

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I loved Patricia Yanni’s quality: “Wasn’t afraid to try new things.”  So often we look to people’s achievements, that they were this important person, or grandmother to twenty-five, or CEO of a Big Corporation, but wouldn’t you rather be known as someone who wasn’t afraid to try new things?  I would.

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I’d like to be known as someone who gets things done.

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Someone who had a life-long passion for learning.

I circled the second one (in red) because now this was in my hometown, a hospital where I had gone for a surgery several years ago.  Rosa could have been someone who cleaned my room, made my bed.  I will think this week on all those lives that have been taken too soon.

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I will remember the quilters.

Sawtoothmania2

Returned Samples

Samples Returned

I didn’t want to open the envelope when these teaching samples came back, even though I’d been expecting them.  The Guild Program Chair wrote me a lovely note telling me they’d never had to cancel a speaker before, and they were sorry.

I cried.

outer shell virus trojan horse

How do I write a blog post about what’s going on under the surface for those of us who love going out and teaching and meeting new groups (groups of 50+!) and hanging out with quilters and celebrating what they make in their classes?

When Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of Modern Quilt Studio, in a newsletter, said that they’d canceled all classes and Guild visits until there is a vaccine, I knew that what I initially thought of a just-a-few-weeks experience was now going to be at least a year, if not two or three.

I think it’s been slowly dawning on most of us — as we stay carefully put, doing our “i-sew-lation” sewing, doing our best to be cheerful — that a creeping sadness is all around us.  It’s not only the horrific amount of deaths from Coivd-19 or the stories of those on the front lines in the hospitals or that we share memes incessantly, trying hard not to be sucked under. That creeping sadness some call grief (and that may be what it is), interrupts creativity, joy, connection, and a host of other daily living patterns.

Urge to create is gone cartoon

One morning’s walk this week, I dissolved in tears as my husband discussed all the formal steps we would have to take for possible retirement: forms to be signed, Zoom calls, separation from his job and mountains of research and careful planning. It wasn’t that we aren’t prepared or ready for this new shift in our lives.  I was just jealous that he had forms to be signed, Zoom calls and mountains of careful planning.

I cried because all of sudden, doing what I loved was gone, and for the foreseeable future–it would remain out of reach.  There were no forms to be signed.  Just a lonely envelope in the mail from a most kind fellow quilter.

So many tears for such a little crisis, I thought.  I immediately shifted into Counting the Blessings Mode, as that’s my usual.  I have a wonderful home to shelter in, a sufficiently stocked sewing room, a kind and loving husband who works hard to understand me, sufficient steady income, a large family of brothers and sisters and parents and children and grandchildren and a wide expanse of friends, both in person and digital.

But it’s just hard to retire when you weren’t expecting to, when you’d found what you really loved to do.  I don’t know how long it will be until I can greet quilting friends again in person.  No one knows. But we’ll all just keep going, keep trying to count our blessings, keep working to bridge that not-in-person gap that we all face.  Some days I do fine at this.

And other days an envelope makes me stop and have a good cry.

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I’ll be in my Sewing Room — my particular version of a Happy Box — if you need me.

tiny nine patches

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This came in my emailbox yesterday.  Given what I wrote about above, I’m not surprised.  I’m glad that the Modern Quilt Guild is being proactive on solving the problems that might exist in our new covid-centric world.

And as far as my teaching goes, I am in contact with my future quilt guild gigs, seeing what their plans are, if they will be holding events.  If you have questions, and have already booked with me, please get in contact to discuss.  Things change quickly.

tiny nine patches

The illlustration of the virus above is:

“A rendering of the outer shell of an adeno-associated virus with the exterior partially removed. The shell is used as a Trojan horse to deliver a genetic component of the coronavirus to raise an immune response. Credit: Eric Zinn and Luk H. Vandenberghe”

I thought the illustration beautiful.