10 Days

Not sure what Mom would have made of these colours together, but I love them.

I’m home, but feeling so adrift; Mom died last week only ten days after we received the stage four diagnosis.  I know I’m supposed to be eased that she didn’t suffer, but that barely scratches the surface.

I’m slightly calmed by a gorgeous quilt proffered by a guild that makes comforters for each of the patients at the hospice where Mom spent her last days.  My siblings kindly allowed me that keepsake, and I’ve already told The Burrito he can use it when he sleeps over at our house.

I’m especially keen on the quilting; makes for a great rippled effect after having been washed.

Yet….  My heart is ripped apart, scattered along the roads between Silicon Valley and where Mom took her final breaths.  And while I know those ragged pieces will again one day beat steadily within my chest, it’s damn difficult to fathom how, when, wtf???  My mother was fine three months ago, just fine!  Well her knees were a little achy, but she was taking turmeric and feeling better and….

And now I’m beyond stymied how stupidly fast this occurred, how insanely unreal it seems, how mother-effing this day appears.  It looks like any typical late June day, but for the love of God what the hell happened in the last few weeks?  I was merely going to help my littlest sister, Mom suffering from a bad back.  Now Mom’s dead, really?  REALLY?

Usually I’m not fond of gingham, but here it works, as does the black and white; sometimes life is just that way.

Shite; I’ve used a lot of blue language recently, because despite how pain-free Mom was at the end, the friggin’ speed of this has hit all who love her like a freakin’ bullet train.  This is nothing like how Dad died, this is some alternate reality.  I know people die of cancer with barely any warning, and I also know people die in accidents and there is no loving goodbye shared.  But I’ve never been on the effed-up end of it.  This is new, it hurts, and I’m groping around, looking for pieces of my heart.  And my head; oh my goodness, barely enough brain cells to make the morning coffee.  I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee, but never again will I get Mom a gift card for her favourite java corporation.  So many never again’s makes me wanna puke.

Not sure when I might post next, maybe tomorrow, maybe September.  Last week I told the hospice social worker I’ve had one foot in the corporeal, the other in the ethereal, and never had I felt so stretched.  Finally I’ve fallen on my arse and Lord Almighty it’s a killer getting back up.  Currently I’m on my knees, nowhere near standing on two feet.  But on those knees, prayer seems easier, about the only task I can manage.  Mom’s final ten days have been swept away on a hot summer wind, bitter against my face, strangely cold at my back; I never dreamed she’d leave us this soon.  May the peace she now possesses find her beloveds; we are aching tremendously.

The sunset after Mom was gone; she’s with Dad, both interceding on behalf of those left behind….

Stage 4

When I left last week to give my youngest sister a hand at Mom’s house, I never imagined what has unfolded since Monday; my mother has terminal cancer, metastasized all down her spine.  Severe back pain that started in mid-April has suddenly become more than I can fathom, my siblings and Mom’s four sisters feeling the same.  It’s as if I’m now living in an alternate universe where the sun still shines yellow in a blue sky, leafy-green trees blowing in a stiff breeze, yet my mom will never see another summer.

I’ll not share another Easter with her, or Thanksgiving.  Not Christmas or her birthday or Mother’s Day….  That was the last time I saw her before last week.  She looked tired and thin, but back pain will sap the energy right out of a person.  Cancer does that too.  Most likely she’s had it for months, but only in the past two was it noticeable.  And, and, and….  The writer in me sits in stupefied silence attempting to fathom this awful truth.  Dad’s only been gone for three years and now Mom’s right behind him.

I’m grateful for my faith, but this remains difficult because my eyes view that which is corporeal.  Yellow sun.  Blue sky.  Green trees rushing about in the wind….  When I headed home yesterday, all I saw seemed like new vistas.  My whole family is gearing up for a huge adjustment day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.  I’ve been mulling over the moments since last Sunday night when my sister and I realized there was more to Mom’s poor health than a wrenched back and achy hips.

Driving away from Mom’s house last Sunday night, her final evening spent at home.

When Dad died, I consoled myself that Mom was in fairly good health, also six years his junior.  Time seemed a plentiful notion, but time is as slight as the fleeting breeze, as brief as the sunset, as ethereal as the last five days since we took Mom to the emergency room where the ER doc gave us the news, then confirmed by another physician who used those words: stage four.  Now that term seems almost quaint after how many MRIs and CT scans and biopsies.  We wanted to know why she hurt, and yes, information is better than ignorance, but this cuts so deeply.  How she can be so peaceful is a mystery; I told my brother either we’ve been graced by an angel or she’s the best con artist alive.

While I know it’s the former, my heart throbs pondering memories and times that won’t come to pass.  Again I turn to my faith, for which I am so grateful, a belief Mom shares.  Usually I’m a calm sort, my hopes set upon an unseen future.  Yet currently my feet are mired in clay that clings as if another day shall never dawn.  With much effort I pry one foot loose, setting it on dry ground, straddling two worlds.  Mom seems to be doing that with ease.  I, however, am struggling.

In the interim, I’ll be making road trips, spending as much time with Mom as possible.  Maybe I’ll sew hexies with her, I know we’ll enjoy some lovely chats.  But mostly I will cherish these upcoming days and weeks, tucking them away in my heart.  When our hearts are breaking, I like to think they are growing, and once healed, more love can enter.  I pray that happens again, and when Mom is gone, ample space will be waiting inside my chest muscle.  We are here to love and laugh, and to move forward.   I don’t know how it might happen, but by grace I’m sure it will.

A Duvet Cover Done and Dusted

Last week I finished Little Miss’ duvet cover, but proper photos never came about.  Her mum loved fabric from Heather Givans’ Literary collection, of which I have several fat quarters stashed just for my eldest.  In the meantime, both sides of the cover are edged in Classics, providing a little break from the superhero theme.

Draped in Marvel comics with a hint of library cards; Little Miss is quite pleased for her new bed cover.

I wasn’t certain what to start next sewing-wise, and as for the writing, I’m currently rereading what was recently published, checking for stray typos.  However, I’ll be leaving to help care for my mom, who hasn’t been well since April.  I might take some hexies with me, as they are portable, but more on my mind is family requiring love and assistance.

Of course my thoughts go back to when The Burrito was new and my dad was ailing.  This with Mom is different, yet parallels remain, the biggest being no longer am I of the younger generation.  A grandma now for three years, my role is that of a matriarch within my immediate family.  As an eldest daughter, I work in conjunction with siblings to facilitate the best care and treatment for our mum, but it’s not like when Dad was sick, because Mom was in charge then, and we were following her example.  While that experience prepped me for the future, often the future emerges with different rules.

Making a duvet cover was challenging, and while I wasn’t always enthralled with the task (and am not certain I would ever sew another), new processes were learned, increasing my sewing skills.  Mom will appreciate that metaphor, as she’s a seamstress from way back.  We can discuss fabrics and patterns in the coming days, or whatever she feels like chatting about; I recall my dad dictating our conversations, he loved to talk.  But I don’t feel like somebody’s little girl anymore, maybe the death of a parent ends that notion.  Now I’m someone else, an abuela yes, also….  Taking a deep breath, I await what comes next.  The best way to meet these changes is with open arms, a willing heart, and the awareness of grace at my back.  Of those three, the latter is most important, and upon that I will gratefully rely.

The Hawk, Part Thirteen

Usually when another piece of this saga has been published, an accompanying entry is brief; it’s up and you can find it here.  But while I plan to release this tale in a formal manner, more needs to be acknowledged.  Making the conclusion available closes a large circle that I couldn’t have dreamed when first starting this book over four years ago.

I wasn’t a grandmother then, my familial role that of supporting my parents while Dad battled cancer, occasionally helping out my offspring when the need arose.  This tale started humbly, but quickly I sensed a wider scope emerging.  At the same time, my father underwent chemotherapy while quilts knocked on my door.  Writing fell by the wayside; it was difficult concentrating and sewing required less brain power.  Then my youngest became pregnant, followed by her elder sister and….

Suddenly my existence as an author seemed to have vanished on a stiff wind.  Now I wonder if not for The Hawk, might I have eschewed writing altogether?  Yet there was a story to tell, at times bigger than I thought I could tackle.  In bits and chunks I wrote, then decided to simultaneously publish what had accumulated.  That too kept me writing, although the more I fashioned, the longer this tale grew.

In the interim, babies were born, my dad passed.  Eric, Lynne, and the rest became an extension of my own clan; when not writing, I wondered when I might return to their realm, and when I was working, I pondered how blessed was my life with The Burrito, Little Miss, and Miss Em.  My father would find their antics amusing, perhaps how he views my foray into fiction.  How I see my novelistic endeavors has altered, and this story stands like a demarcation; closing my eyes, I easily recall my previous life as an author, but in taking a good look, that woman appears half formed.

Maybe that is simply indicative of life’s changes, but how often do we get a guidebook or pamphlet in the middle of such transitions?  For me, that is what The Hawk has become, a Life Echo minus the sound.  Yet melodic memories waft right over my head, laying their healing beauty within my ears as I read Eric’s laments, Lynne’s dreams, Stanford’s hesitations, Laurie’s joy, Sam’s eagerness, Renee’s hopes, Marek’s wisdom, Seth’s fears, Klaudia’s wariness.  My goodness, that’s quite a collection, but The Hawk isn’t a small novel, lol.  It’s many love stories, a few tragedies.  It’s fact and fantasy set in the 1960s and thank the Lord it’s finally finished.  The entire collection is available on Smashwords, and will be released in full on various other online retailers soon.

All Sorts of Sounds

A recent shot of chatty sisters, rattling toys nearby.

Recently Little Miss celebrated her third birthday.  A party was held, plenty of festive notions, and now she stands alongside her older cousin, far away from Miss Em who at five and a half months is a happy, grabby, drooly infant.  I have been in full grandma-mode lately, but even while cuddling nietos and enjoying family, ponderings of an audible nature have continued.

I wonder if my grandson heard the water, birds, or leaves rustling in the breeze.

A couple of weeks ago I learned about Life Echo, a project that connects sounds to memory.  I don’t mean songs, but everyday noises which hearken to moments within our lives; from chirping birds to rollicking waves to clanking vehicles, sounds are harnessed to map out a person’s past.  Clients fill out questionnaires and those at Life Echo interpret the data, fashioning a memory soundtrack.  Investigating the website, I felt as if entering a new world, in part that when I think of sound, music emerges as the main element.  But there was also a newfound appreciation for the audible world surrounding me; from planes flying overhead and children’s laughter to basketball announcers and my fingers on a keyboard.  Our lives are bordered and buffered by sound, and how much of it do we tune out as irritating or unnecessary?

I recall the buzz of my sewing machine as well as the clunk of the presser foot lifted and released many times over during the quilting of this coaster.

Yet what if our existences were stripped of noise?  I’ve been mulling over how that element could figure into my next novel.  I’ve also paid closer attention to the ticking clock here in my writing room, considered how the floor creaks near the big quilt wall.  I’m cognizant of the dishwasher’s faint hum, how the light rail’s doors open as if in a vacuum.  Being aware of background sounds has become a new hobby, not that I need more to do; this is so easy, maybe a little distracting, but in a good way.  It’s a renewed manner of observation, and I am so grateful for the reminder.  Our memories aren’t merely that of faces and events, but an auditory sense that isn’t music.  Another kind of melody wafts through our days, adhering to the gray matter, then poking us when again those sounds are realized.  Sometimes the pricks are gentle, sometimes a bit sharp.  Life Echo brings to the forefront those which lift the heart, heal a wound, rouse a smile.  Thanks to Justin for sharing this amazing project!

The Last of the (Mohican) Placemats

One, two, three…. Soon they will reside on my daughter’s dining table.

I can’t recall when I started these, would have to look on the blog for that information, but I feel like these placemats have been loitering on the quilt wall for, well, a good while.  And to be honest, I hadn’t planned to wrap up this project until autumn, in that other pieces are waiting, and these hues are more fall-themed.

Each has a different shade for the binding, the remnants of which I’ll sew together for another project.

But as I completed them, my daughter was ever so pleased.  Then suddenly I found myself busying with them….

And now the final three are finished, the table runner too.  I worked on that before visiting my grandson, then came home to find it draped over my sofa.  Dude!  Again, time has a funny way of arranging one’s schedule, as in where in heck did I find the time to put that together?

This one troubles me a bit; why did I use a large brown square right under a small one of the same colour? It was the first I made, then I left it for the very end…. Some questions will never have a proper answer, I suppose.

When I used to embroider, several pieces were going at once, but in sewing, I tend to stick to one quilt, yet lately I’m back to hither and yon; maybe it’s due to a small feeling of mastery?

Table runner alongside; making these satisfied my desire to use Southwestern shades, as well as fabrics I had on hand.

I basically know what I’m on about in this quilting gig, or perhaps the scattered nature of my life is bleeding into my hobbies.  Regardless, at least this project is in the can, leaving room for others clamoring for my attention.

Even the backs are constructed from what I had in my stash, although my batting scraps are now quite depleted. More quilting will refill that bag, lol.

Something else has been needling my brain lately, about which I’ll expound upon soon enough.  For now, here’s a point to ponder; what does sewing sound like?  Or writing, hehehe.  Recently Life Echo was introduced into my sphere, offering food for thought on various levels.  I’ll leave you with that intriguing notion, as revisions and quilts both call my name.

Stepping back into time….

Or am I?  Home from a week spent with my youngest daughter and her family, I’m battling a head cold, but am feeling strangely refreshed in a manner that will take me some time to reckon.  How much time?  Ah, here’s the distinction; not to get too metaphysical, but if instead of coming home I found myself eighty to one hundred years in the past, would time’s passage carry the same weight as what I experienced in the last seven days?

Dude, that’s a bit abstract for a hello I’m home post, but time is short (or is it?), and the sniffles have rendered me useless for much beyond sitting in front of my computer.  Thank goodness I didn’t feel this debilitated while hanging out with The Burrito; he would have ran circles around my sorry behind.

Hexie alert! The Burrito found these quite a delight, especially with the inclusion of fabric he chose….

Actually, I gave him plenty to ponder, introducing hexies to his world.  His world is one relatively free from time’s rules, perhaps his approach to time influenced my perception.  Or I was simply too busy to ponder a corporeal acceptance of hours, minutes, and seconds.  That certainly is true, but here I am back in Silicon Valley, and instead of feeling the usual displacement, readjustment seems wholly altered.

My grandson was over the moon with this superhero gorilla print. I took some home for a future quilt.

I was here, I left, I’ve come back, the resonance of time missed totally absent.  There was no pining to come home, I was completely rooted right where I was, living as if the next day wasn’t a consideration.  Occasionally I have noticed this sensation, but never has it been so pervasive.  And now, not quite an entire day back, I am still wrapped in a bubble of being here right NOW.  It’s a funny feeling to note, somewhat tied into writing; plotting a book set in another galaxy requires a fair knowledge of how that planet works (or more rightly how it contrasts from ours).  What if past, present, and future wasn’t a part of the lexicon, what if….

What if I had fallen back into 1918 instead of 2018, my smart phone not worth more than a paperweight, notifications only a black screen.  I could still quilt and write, but other than an old school calendar, how would I measure time?  Sunrises and sunsets would matter, but to-do lists could fall by the wayside.  Not that I was around back then, but I imagine folks were kept busy enough, sort of how I felt with a three-year-old under my watch, ha ha.  Did people in those days feel that time was squeezed, was there the sense we now seem to have of not enough time?

Maybe I was heavily influenced by my grandson’s grasp of time; falling under that spell, I surrendered to a childlike state which stripped away the usual boundaries.  While my activities are usually framed by a Spirit-led awareness, equally I am often hampered by a ticking clock.  Yet, if that caveat was eliminated, and granted, it’s an enormous stipulation, how much more might I accomplish?  I don’t merely mean items crossed off a list, books written, or quilts sewn.  Where the ethereal and corporeal zones meet seems to lessen time’s importance, or how strongly I am drawn to heed that ticking.  Not that I want to be forgetful or lazy, but I wish to embrace as fully as I can where I am RIGHT NOW.

Some morning artwork; the little pencils were just his size.

As a fairly organized person, I reveled not only in my grandson’s joys, but in how uncomplicated were those thrills.  While fully embracing my responsibilities, I wish to root myself deeply in the here and now, which currently means trying to wrap up this post so it makes sense.  Maybe I’m blowing a lot of hot air, but I can’t dismiss what I felt over the last several days, how I want to incorporate that into this day, as well as into a novel.  I certainly didn’t feel this way five years ago when pondering Haunted, perhaps that’s why it had to wait for now.  If nothing else, I’ve taken several key steps in a journey that continues to surprise as well as delight.  Last week I’ve might have closed this entry by saying, “And I can’t wait to see what happens next!”  Today I’m content with inhaling deeply, resting in the quiet bliss that comes merely by taking another blessed breath.