Come A-Round is finished. This has lived in our house under many names: Crop Circles, Dotty Quilt, Elizabeth’s Masterpiece, That Quilt. But its real name is Come A-Round. *This* is how I came up with the name.
I finished the top and sent it to the quilter, Cathy Kreter, who quilted the central fan-like circles, and the spaces in between them. She also ran a line of stitching on the dark green stem and the outer edge. I was to take over from there, but it went back to her to tackle the middle of the circles–a space about 2″ in diameter, which I couldn’t quilt because of so many layers. Then back to me and I did the rest of the details. It’s a good partnership. The back fabric is about perfect for machine quilting: lots of tiny dots in all colors that hide a multitude of sins. Just not green thread branches, and no, I didn’t pick them out. I knew that if I turned back at that point, it would never be finished. At least not by the end of summer. And sometimes good-enough-but-done is better than perfect-but-undone.
The circle is simple in its geometry: one continuous looping whole. Yet most of our lives feel more like jagged peaks on an EKG monitor with little blips of up and down in a rhythmic pattern–peaks and valleys that indicate there’s a life going on–that a heart is beating. So when my husband’s sister called us early Monday morning with a voice full of peaks and valleys, so different from her usual and we heard the news about her young adult son gone too early, the rhythmic pattern of heartbeat stilled by his own hand, my husband and I sat together quietly for a long while afterward. The silence between us was thick with emotion and sadness and wondering about whatever could have gone wrong? We’d start a question, then pause mid-thought, not really knowing where we were headed, but knowing that there was no easy path around this sorrow. This circle had been rent, broken.
My husband called our eldest son, and now his voice echoed his sister’s; as we called each of our children, we took turns pausing to let the emotion fall away so we could continue with the necessary news. We went about our day. We sat stunned. We fixed dinner. We took a walk. We kept talking, thinking about Scott’s widow and his two young daughters. The couple had recently separated and we wondered how we could let her know that no one blamed her. I made a cake. We were more gentle with each other. We lingered outside after dinner on the patio, the sun falling into darkness. Then the phone conversations turned to funeral arrangments. Then the task of travel arrangements, and my voice cracked as I tried to arrange flights, blessing the kindness of the faceless voice on the other end of the line. We talked with our children: life is fragile. As people of faith, we believe we will see him again: whole. After a few days the jagged peaks and valleys of those initial numbing hours leveled out.
It’s really a circle, this thing we call life. The idea is not a new one, and certainly has a myriad of cliches to accompany the idea: one eternal round, the wedding ring’s symbolism, death to life and back to death again. You name it, you’ve heard it. But at the end of the day, we are all encircled about by a sense of going forth and returning, a feeling of beginning and ending, yet sometimes the lines that create those divisions are so subtle that they fade away. What we send out, we see in return. What is born, dies.
There’s a famous passage in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes, about a time for everything. I looked it up again today and interestingly, in among the weightier references of death and life, mourning and laughter, peace and war, it notes that there is a time to rend, and a time to sew.
This week, I sewed circles.