Lurching forward

>> Friday, January 10, 2014

I had forgotten how slippery a ruler could be, how hard I needed to press down to keep it locked into place as I cut fabric. The rotary cutter glided against the edge, and all the sudden, it wasn’t even. It wasn’t that perfect 2 and a quarter inch I sought, I needed, to finish a quilt that had languished for weeks and even months. The quilt, the many pieces of fabric sewn together, just so, says a lot about the past 6 months. Or, rather, its construction does. Or, really, the fits and starts in which it was put together, sewn together, the long slow crawl in which it was constructed, made, shaped into being.

It started in the summer, a new project for a friend’s baby. It started, like most of my projects, with a glimpse of an idea, a passing thought about shapes and color. It started with strips of fabric, hastily thrown together one warm summer night when I needed to sew, when my mind moved faster than my hands. And then it sat, as these things sometimes do, while I took care of the rest of my life. I prepared to teach my own class, I scurried to meet a bevy of early fall deadlines, I marched through a suite of Jewish fall holidays, I prepped materials for the looming job market that inched closer and closer. All the while, a large block sat on my futon, and ideas about what to do with it flitted through my head.

Finally, some breathing room, some space between other obligations, arrived, and I returned to the quilt. I attended several sewing events at Pink Castle Fabrics, used the huge design wall to figure out the real plan for this quilt, learned how to sew a Y-seam to make the ideas I had work, and finally, the quilt top was done. A month later, I pieced together the back, splicing and sewing yardage that coordinated with the front. It came together in an evening and, with more deadlines met, I worked again, basting and quilting and watching as a glimmer of a thought materialized as a quilt. I was almost done. The quilt almost finished. The gift nearly ready to be sent.

And then my world crashed down around me. Not softly, but harshly.

My dad died. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Without warning. It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving and I was close by, in the metro area for a conference. He was supposed to meet me for lunch and he never made it.

The details of that day aren’t fuzzy. Some elements are impressionistic, but they’re still sharp and painful.

Days marched on, time moved ahead, and we lurched forward, incrementally, taking small and tentative steps into a new world, one whose contours are still unfamiliar and whose boundaries are not yet charted.

It had been 7 weeks since I last touched the quilt, forty-nine days of trying to gather new bearings. I knew I would sew again. Some of the obstacles were merely practical: for long chunks of the past few months, I was away from my stash, from my rulers and cutting mat, from my sewing machine. I glanced at blog posts here and there, I thought about shapes and let ideas percolate. I thought about closing the blog, knowing that my posts had waned long before November 24 and not really sure when I would want to return, if ever. I mentioned this in passing to my brother last week. And he told me to keep it. My brother who may or may not have ever read a blog post told me to keep it. So I did.

Last night I finished the quilt. I’ll wash it soon and mail it and maybe post about it. More likely, truth be told, it will show up on Instagram (you can find me there as two_hippos) and that might be it. Or I may squeeze out time from dissertation-writing-winter and post about it here. I'm not yet sure, but I'll figure it out.


Rossie January 10, 2014 at 11:22 AM  

I love you Ronit, and was so glad to see you yesterday. I cannot fathom your loss, but I do know your strength. Hang in there and I'm here if you need someone to lean on.

Anonymous January 10, 2014 at 1:30 PM  

May you find comfort.

Molly January 11, 2014 at 7:16 PM  

I'm so very sorry for your loss. My heart just aches for you and your family. We've been there and know the hole you have in the middle of life. I hope you find some comfort in the midst of your grief.

Karissa January 12, 2014 at 8:55 AM  

Oh, Ronit, I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. Sending you much love and comfort. We all need a break, and you shouldn't feel guilty taking any and all the time you need.

Dorie January 12, 2014 at 3:23 PM  

Beautifully written, honest post. I'm sorry you lost your dad, and so suddenly.

Sarah January 13, 2014 at 12:17 AM  

I'm glad to see your post, I've been keeping an eye out hoping you would return to your blog both because I like reading it and with the thought that perhaps it gives you something back too.

You write so beautifully and your quilting is inspiring, I hope sharing those things with others will be joyful and help you through these hardest times.

I'm sorry I don't live close enough to have been a support these past weeks, have been thinking of you often. May you find comfort.

Leigh Ann Mahaffie January 14, 2014 at 2:14 AM  

I am so sorry for your loss - it's a terrible thing to lose a parent, no matter how old we are. Thank you for not giving up the blog - maybe it will help you in the healing process. it will be OK again, someday. Never the same, but OK. Praying for peace in your heart.

Carla January 14, 2014 at 8:39 AM  

So sorry for your lost. I can't even imagine your pain and yet I know one day I'll feel it too. Take a break from the blog it's okay but I hope you don't totally go away. You need your time to heal and reconnect. May the love of your friends and family help you find the peace you need.

Kelli February 6, 2014 at 9:52 AM  

Oh Ronit! I'm so sorry for your loss! I wish I could do more for you than just say I'm sorry, but know that I truly mean it. We'll be here for you when you feel like posting and there's no rush. Time continues whether we want it to or not and sometimes we need time to find our way. Sending you a big hug.

Anonymous June 5, 2014 at 11:03 AM  

Ronit, I stumbled onto your blog by accident. I was a friend of your Dad's for the last 12 years or so. He was a great and remarkable human being, generous to a fault, extremely smart, and had a great sense of humor. Your eulogy at his funeral was brilliant and heartfelt, and you showed remarkable grace under extreme pressure and grief. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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