January 19, 2015
Sometimes, there are epic projects that seem to take forever to finish. And sometimes, those projects take on a life of their own and when the last stitch or final brushstroke is applied, there is a whole story that comes with the finished creation.
My wedding quilt is one such epic project.
Long before I met my husband, I began collecting fabric for a quilt. I leaned towards cooler hues of purples and greens and blues. When we met, I knew I wanted to make a snowflake quilt for my future husband who feels most at home atop a mountain in the wilderness. How I fell in love with a man who yearned for Summer Solstice only because it marked the beginning of shorter days with winter on its way, I’ll never know. Me, who likes to be bundled in warmth and coziness with dreams of gardening and fresh cut bouquets.
I managed to finish the quilt just shy of a week before our wedding in 2005. I laid it out on our bed on that special day so after the wedding we’d return to our home and he’d see it for the first time. It was my wedding gift to my husband and I was so happy with how it turned out.
I imagined all my babies (of which there would be three) to be welcomed into its patterned folds just after emerging into this world. Our first son was born two months later and we snuggled beneath the quilt happily and cozily the moment after he was born, as winter descended into our valley.
However, he was the only one of my kids to be nestled beneath the wedding quilt. A few months after he was born, he was put down for a nap and inadvertently, a hallogen bedside lamp fell amongst the folds of the quilt. I nursed my newborn babe to sleep but soon smelled smoke. I had no idea where it was coming from. I assumed it was someone burning outdoors, but when I opened the window, it was clear the smell was in our home. Frantically, I searched the upstairs of our small home, to no avail. I glanced at my sleeping babe, and began to go downstairs to the cellar where we kept our washing machine and dryer. Thank goodness, my husband walked in the door and I called him up. Together, we searched baseboards, sockets, the chimney…nothing. Then I saw the smoke. I ran to the bed, where less than two feet my sweet son was sleeping, and whipped back the wedding quilt…the air fanned the smoldering flames and in horror, we saw the bed was on fire. My husband yanked off the quilt (the only thing burning) and ran outside, while Forrest slept on. Outside, we stamped out the burn holes, of which there were four and I was both relieved at the narrow escape and also deeply saddened at the state of our wedding quilt.
After washing it, I set it aside with every intention of fixing the burnholes. But for some reason, it stayed put on the mending shelf, collecting dust. Two more babies joined our family, and the quilt stayed put. I was sad that I never snuggled them beneath our wedding quilt, but with the burnholes reminding me of how close we came to disaster, I wasn’t very hopeful at mending them…it would require a lot of patience, time and talent. The perfectionist in me was vexed that I wouldn’t do the best job, and where was the time with three young children?
Finally, last summer, I was cleaning out my studio space and came across the quilt, nine years after the near-disaster. I realized I’d never get it done myself, so I made the decision to take it to a professional qulter to fix. A few months later, I wrapped the mended quilt and placed it under the Christmas tree as a gift, again, to my husband.
The quilter did a fantastic job…you cannot tell where the mending occurred. However, there are still a few tell-tale burn smudges permanently left on the whiter parts of the quilt.
But I’m okay with that. I realize a quilt is very much indeed like the fabric of our lives, telling stories of our history. That accident with the lamp on the bed will always be a part of the quilt, just like the reason I made it for our wedding, and the birth of Forrest, and all the books read to sleepy children…
This quilt has a life of its own and I look forward to the other stories that will be added to it, layer after layer.