Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Comfort Shawl

My basket has mostly been full of hooking projects this winter. There were these.

Then, these.

Now, these.

My hands have been itching to knit, so now my sewing basket looks like this.

Many weeks ago, my mother shared with me the shocking onset of illness in a dear friend of hers. Her friend had odd, mismatched symptoms which doctors speculated upon for months with no resolution. Suddenly, over a lunch with friends, Jody, fell desperately ill and was rushed to the hospital. It was discovered that Jody has a brain tumor. The tumor, with a complicated yet far less complicated name than it is, has changed Jody's, and Jody's family's life forever. My mother is deeply worried about Jody and she has forwarded long e-mails forwarded from other friends from far away, written by Jody's husband. These are e-mails about emergency surgery, nearly all the tumor taken, months to live, years left or not left, this study at USF or this study at Stanford, tired Jody, radiation, food delivery calendars, and a quilt in the making. The e-mails alone are shocking, emotional, desperate and mind boggling. And so, for the second time in my adult life, I find myself knitting for comfort.

It might seem odd to some of you that I am knitting for my mother's friend. I am, afterall, just the daughter of the friend. Right? But, there is something so uncommon, so amazing, so touching about my mother's group of friends. These women are teachers, lawyers, Red Cross volunteers, executives' wives, executives, mothers extraordinaire, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, sisters, mothers of disabled children, mothers of well behaved children, mothers of wayward children, married, divorced, widowed, single, friends. These women are artists, historians, and quilters. They laugh out of control together and cry hard together. I am awed by this group and envious of this gift my mother holds carefully.

Jody and I met years ago when I first brought Libby home to visit my family in California. Libby was five months old, a happy baby with a dark mess of curls all over her head. My mother took us to her monthly quilt group get together. The quilt group rotated meeting homes throughout the year.

This particular home was beautifully and richly decorated, a Baltimore Album quilt hung above us on the living room wall as we sat in a circle chatting, eating and quilting. It was quite a sight. Chatting, laughing and smiling women with blossoming album blocks bursting forth from their laps. The colors were brilliant, the stitches invisible. Libby was placed, on a quilt, on the floor in the middle of the group. She grinned and giggled as she was truly the center of attention. I was thirty-six when I gave birth to Libby - my mother had waited a long time for this. She was beaming. The women told me stories about themselves and each other. The quilt hanging on the wall was really a bribe. The hostess had designed and created the quilt for whichever of her children married first. She was tired of waiting. We laughed.

Libby was taken with Jody, which is no surprise as Jody greeted us with such warmth and sincerety that it would have been very difficult not to like her instantly. I know little about her except she made my baby smile and giggle and has, for a long time, been a devoted and loving friend to my mother and this special group of women.

I have been thinking of Jody a good deal. Every day. I hate to see and hear that my mother, and her friends, are sad. I hate to know that Jody is tired and ill and that her family is scared. I feel out of control. So, I knit. I have started this shawl. A way to focus my thoughts of Jody, a way to do something. A way to send a hug.

Don't misread me. This is truly a selfish act, a way to make myself feel better, a way to control something in this mess. If the shawl, wrapped around Jody's shoulders, comforts her as much as the first eight inches have comforted me, I will have succeeded.


  1. Hi Kelly,
    What a beautiful heartfelt post. Your mum's group sounds absolutely wonderful and I don't think you are being selfish by knitting sometimes it's the simple things in life that keep us focused.
    Michelle M

  2. What a touching story. It's weird who sticks in our memories long after we've met them--and even if we didn't know them well. I hope Jody gets better and has a long life. So hard. Knitting is always so soothing. :)

  3. Such a lovely, touching story. My prayers are with you, Jody and this group of her dear friends. May you find comfort in the love of each other. God. bless.

  4. Pretty yarn! Where did you find it?! Love it! I have been working on my first prayer shawl (is that the same as a comfort shawl?) I'm a knitting fool semi-newbie!!!

    I'll keep your family friend in my prayers.