Monday, April 4, 2011

Sew Alone

     I sit here in my quiet room, at the top of the stairs, inside a house that is equally quiet.  No one has come to move me; I am still nestled against the wall, directly beneath the window, whose shade was drawn many months ago. I miss the sunlight, the noonday rays, which used to warm my weathered and wooden exterior. Perfectly-cut squares of material rest upon my table, pieces of a well-patterned quilt waiting to be stitched. Together, we sit in our darkened state, wondering what is to become of us, confused by why we’ve been left alone for so long.
It wasn’t always like this—dark and quiet. Back when the curtain was raised, life was busy and so was I. For forty years I sewed inside this house, purposely stitching together pieces of fabric, large and small. Not by myself, of course. Her hands were there to lead and guide our work. Her fingers were steady and skilled. She also had a gift for color, texture, and pattern. In her mind's eye, she envisioned the endless possibilities a bolt of fabric could become, and together we created them all.
  In the early days we made clothes.  Dresses for the girls, vests for the boys. The house was alive, children were everywhere, and life moved faster than the whirl of my needle. Laughter bounced off the walls, as feet padded up and down the stairs. Those footsteps, I remember so well. They were timid and slow when the feet were young, but before long they grew solid and strong. Eventually, they became bold and brave enough to bound the steps two at a time. The house was happy. She was happy. I was happy.
  Time continued to pass, however, and one day the footsteps faded. All too soon, it was just her and me, spending quiet days inside the house, sewing uninterrupted as each day unfolded. She loved to sew, though. I could tell. For she sat with me in the morning, the afternoon, and sometimes late into night if the man of the house was still not home. Her fingers would fly with perfect precision, as she threaded two pieces of fabric together. With each dip and rise of my needle, we worked side by side--silent partners, weaving bits of material into masterpieces, day after day, year after year.
  Of course, there were times when the laughter returned and small (but grand!) feet once again pitter-pattered past me. When they were here, she didn’t have time to sew. But, that didn't matter. The joy that filled the house filled me as well. Their laughter was contagious, their energy rejuvenating. Besides, I was never over-looked completely. Small hands would eventually find me, and slowly skim across my wooden surface. Little fingers would carefully inspect the colorful spools of thread, tucked neatly inside my cabinet door. The hands were curious, but gentle. It was like they knew how important I was to her. But I also knew how important she was to them. They would call to her from the top of the stairs and she would come, to play a game or look through a box of old people in old pictures stored safely on a closet shelf.  At night she would climb the stairs to tuck them in or chase away an invisible monster, who had somehow come to hide beneath their bed. They were so young, and she was growing older, yet age never seemed to get in their way.
  It was then that we started making the quilts, and we became quite good. We sewed large quilts to cover beds, and small quilts to cover babies. Together, we made quilts of every color and pattern. There were three, however, that I will never forget, and I knew they were going to be different from that day she came upstairs. In her arms she carried not crisp and clean store-bought packages, but three brown grocery bags, with a hand-written name on the outside of each one. When she reached inside the paper caverns, it wasn't purchased folds of fabric that she pulled out, but the tiniest of clothes, instead. They were pink and white, soft green and sky blue. She looked them over carefully, fingering each one, as her eyes seemed lost in faraway places. Then she picked up the scissors, and as I caught my breath, she began to cut. The shapes that emerged were odd and mismatched. No two pieces were alike. And yet, when she began to shape them together, like one would do a puzzle, they fit perfectly. It was like they were meant to become something new all along. What’s more, each quilt seemed to tell a story, a story about the joys and possibilities of life from the very beginning, and the pages that had already been written. When we finished those three quilts, we didn’t say a word. We just sat in silent awe, staring at the mosaic of memories laid out before us.
  Those quilts were among our last pieces we created together. One day she went down the stairs, and just never came back. I think she meant to, for those squares of fabric are still here upon my table. But it’s been too long, too many days have passed. I have a list of growing questions, which I may find have no answers. Memories keep me company, now, as I sit here in the quietness of my room. There are pieces of her sewn inside me, stitched forever within my heart. I will never forget her. But I wonder if I will be. Yes, my days have darkened, but my hope remains, that someday, someone will come back. Perhaps the hands that pulled the shade so long ago, will return to lift it again.  And if so, then maybe, just maybe, I might be cast in a whole new light.

Powerful Words

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran