This isn’t a technical share; it’s a lot more feelings-based. And I know some of my community posts are feelings based, but this one is different. Last year I lost a bunch of people in a relatively short amount of time.
In the Spring, I was supposed to see my friend in Chicago after a conference, but she’d just gotten bad news that the cancer she’d been fighting for nearly two years had not only spread, but was inoperable. I didn’t get to see her, but she did come to visit on her way to the beach. It was stressful and hard to visit with our kids in moods, but I was so grateful to see her for even a short time!
At the end of the Summer, my Step-Grandmother had some medical issues, then an infection, and next thing we knew she was in hospice. I met her when I was maybe 11. She and my Grandmother were close friends. They took me to the zoo. Maybe 10 years later, my parents had divorced and I was now her family member by marriage. It’s odd becoming a step-child as an adult. It’s complicated, and there are still a lot of hurt feelings about things that were said to me and ways that I was treated by some members of my new family. But my step-grandmother, who had known me longer than I remembered knowing her, was always so welcoming and kind to me. She never made me feel like a disappointment, an “other”, or someone who didn’t belong. She was wonderful!!!
Around the time I was getting married, we spent a lot of time talking, and she
shared so much advice and stories with me. I loved hearing about her life. And sometimes she would tell me about my grandmother who I died before I was an adult. She was a really fabulous person! I felt a great loss when she died. I’ll always remember her for never making me doubt my belonging! When I first heard that she had died(from a step-cousin who posted it on Facebook), I was pretty upset. I remember that when I was processing that grief, I discovered a mistake early in the green section and had to remove the whole thing. I cried the whole time, thinking of her, not the lost work. It was the first part of this project that had really been associated with something sad, but I still think of that green section as healing.
Shortly after that, a roller derby league-mate (who had been wonderful to me when I was a Carolina Rollergirl) died suddenly and tragically. It was hard to learn that she had been having a hard time in her life. It was hard to feel so many what-ifs and to mourn the lost time and opportunity to see her skating and so full of life and spirit. We were all shaken by the loss of Violet, but the funeral was a very loving send-off, and . Throughout the funeral and wake, I kept thinking about the coming loss of Mel, who was going into hospice. Mel and Violet were both Carolina Rollergirls.
Soon after I was working on these little flowers in the piece, and it felt connected to Violet. So much of this afghan felt connected to all of the loss I was feeling. I was still working on these flowers when I arrived in Illinois to be with Mel for a week or two. I was crocheting them as I talked to Mel about Violet’s funeral. I sat with Mel when she slept because she would get scared when she woke up alone. It was hard to be there, but it had been harder to not be there, to be unable to help before. So I sat with her and ran errands. I played with her kids, so her husband could sit with her. It was so hard! Her kids were so young (2, 4, and 6) and had no idea what was happening. They we so cute and sweet and so loud as small kids are. I talked with Mel, and I rubbed her legs if her pain was managed enough. I helped her place an order of books for the kids’ Christmas gifts. It was one of the last things I was able to help with before I went home.
I went home just before Thanksgiving, and I was super depressed. I felt guilty that I was able to have a Thanksgiving with my family while they were suffering. Mel wasn’t eating much food when I left, so I knew she wouldn’t be eating turkey. I received a few messages from her and then it was just me checking on her husband. I was mostly reaching out, letting him know I knew it sucked and kindof throwing a signal that he wasn’t alone, even though he was. He was caring for three kids and his dying wife. It was horrible!
December 18th, I received a message that Mel had died. Our mutual friends and her family, we were all wrecked. It was so unbelievable and unfair. A few days before Christmas about 120 pounds of books were delivered to her kids. As part of the book list we compiled before I left, these books had been bought by her friends from all over the country, and sent as a loving gift from their mother. It was so rewarding to know that I could help her give that to them. It was a difficult task to complete at the time.
So last year was kindof rough, and I can’t even say for sure that I’m over it. But tonight it felt super important to just write this down to acknowledge how awful last year was. To document the ways that my working on this afghan has been so closely tied to major life events before I forget them. I shared a lot of this unabashedly with friends because there was so much grief and nowhere for me to keep it. I had a lot of wonderful friends support me. Some people who barely knew me offered support to me, and I’m forever grateful to them. It helped so much to have this groups of friends who had few or no connections to the people I had lost. I could share their stories and my feelings without burdening others who were also grieving. I don’t think I could have been as good a friend to Mel if I hadn’t had them to virtually hug and cry to in the evenings when it all hit me.