Monday, July 12, 2010

The Power of the Stitch

Have you ever met someone who just happens to have a natural gift? Have you ever attended a revival, and watched as a healer goes through the crowd, healing what ails them? Well, call me a sceptic, as I have a problem with the notion that some people have some super power that other's don't. I'm not saying I completely dismiss the idea, I'm just saying that I need to see it with my own eyes to believe.

Today I became a true believer, in the power of the stitch.

I have often heard the proverb "A Stitch In Time Saves Nine." But what does it actually mean? Well, I went to my favorite source, Wikipedia. The moral of the proverb is that it's best to fix problems soon after they are discovered so that they don't grow into larger problems that will require a lot more effort to fix. in literal terms...mend it now before it drops to bits, it is better to deal with the problem now before it gets too bad it means that to take the time/expense to do something right initially will save you time/expense later. Here is another way of looking at this. Think of a small rip in a stitched seam. If one were to restitch the hole in the seam while it is small, it won't take nearly as much effort as when the hole has time to work itself into a larger hole.

Now, when I talk about the power of the stitch, I am referring to the healing power that comes through the artisans hands. That healing power touches our heart, and changes us. The power of the stitch is so strong, that it can lift our heavy spirits.

The artist that I am speaking of today is none other than Woman N Shadows. Many of you may not be aware of the wonderful gifts that she has. She is not only creative in words and pictures, but she is a talented artist, who creates beautiful quilts, and other textile art. The website for her work is called Renaissance Artist. Please check it out.

If I get back to the proverb, "A Stitch in time..." It reminds me of how we work through our grief. I can't speak for others, only for myself when I say that we must go through it, intense and painful feelings and all. If we try to run and hide from our pain, it will only intensify later. What doesn't get lived through today, may be nine times more difficult to plow through another day. And while we are going through this healing process, we need to look for ways of feeling comforted. If your loss is your spouse, then this is very difficult, as they were the person you likely turned to. I know that for myself, I still look for ways that Michael can comfort me through the sad and painful days. As I have said in the past, I have come to wear his shirts and pajamas as a way of feeling close to him. I still have my favorite of his suit, shirt and tie, hanging in the closet. When I am feeling engulfed in my grief, all I need to do is walk over to the closet and hold this things in my arms.

I was first introduced to the idea of a memory quilt from one of the women in the bereavement group I participated in last fall. Since then I had thought that I would one day have a quilt made with some of Michael's clothing. Initially I thought the quilt would be for me, but later I decided that the person who needed it most was Michael's mother. She loved Michael with all her heart. He brought her so much pride and joy over the years. Having him gone has been devastating for her. Because it has somewhat become part of my role now to see that she, and the rest of his family, are doing well, I wanted to have this quilt made for her.

My friend, Woman N Shadows, created not only a work of art, but a piecing of Michael, all stitched together to bring comfort. Her process was full of dedication and love. She wanted to know who this man was who wore these clothes. She wanted to know why these particular items were chosen. And then, she asked what words would best bring out Michael's voice.

In the months prior to Michael dying, I encouraged him to write a letter to his mother saying those things that often go unmentioned. I told him how important it would be for her to be able to read his words, over and over again. I knew that she would need these affirmations from her son. These words of Michael's can be found stitched into this quilt.

So, do I believe in healers. You bet your sweet ass I do. wNs is a healer with her art. She has chosen a medium that allows those of us who grieve to find comfort in these tangible items of clothing. They are carefully stitched together, often with delicate threads. How appropriate a memory quilt is, as we who mourn often feel like our lives have completely come undone. Each of us then goes about our days, trying to stitch ourselves back together. As we do this we quickly realize that the finished product will not look, or feel, the same. We are now changed.

These pieces of clothing, that were worn for this occasion, or for that occasion, are now forever stitched together to form a blanket of warmth and comfort, and to provide healing through our memories.

Thank you Woman N Shadows, you do beautiful work.


  1. The memory quilt is beautiful. I love the embroidered words. I'm sure that the quilt will provide much comfort to Michael's mother in the years to come. Wonderful work, WnS!

  2. i am humbled. you are too generous. i am glad the quilt arrived safely and that you are happy with it. solace is all i want to give. peace.

  3. Dan,
    The quilt is stunning. It is so moving that you are gifting this to Michael's mother. What a wonderful remembrance - tangible, kinesthetic, comforting, and visual. Sigh.

  4. This is so lovely. Going through all of Robyn's clothes today made me want to have one of these made. Robyn was an artist and a total do-it-yourselfer and I think she would love something that both honored her and could be used.