I cannot bear to part with many of my husband’s belongings yet. His toothbrush is still in the cup on the bathroom counter, his shirts hang in the closet and his pants line the shelf. I decided to make a memory quilt with some of his clothes, rather than give them all away. I chose a nine-patch design to maximize the use of fabric – his finely woven cotton shirts from his attorney days, flannel shirts, polo shirts and black cotton pants to form the border. It took days and weeks of cutting, ironing interface onto the knits, marking 2 x 2 inch squares with a fabric pencil, then cutting squares before I could begin to sew.
“You are sewing this by hand?” asked my sister who stayed with me for a week. “You can sew this up in a snap by machine.”
But it’s soothing and calming making tiny stitches by hand. I can feel the tug and pull of the polo knits, the thin stiffness of the cotton, the pliability of the weave in the casual shirts, and the worn smoothness of the flannel. As I piece together the 2 x 2 squares, each patch brings back a memory. I can envision the gray suit that went with the striped shirt that he wore to work. I remember the green woven shirt he wore at his 50th birthday party. I remember the blue flannel shirts he wore on camping trips pre-brain injury and wore in the winter post-brain injury. I can see his smile as I work with the colorful array of polo shirts he wore every day.
I find comfort in stitching together the memories and by the end of the week, my sister did, too. Together, we completed nine blocks of squares.