Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A knit, in lieu of flowers

Flowers are such a default setting for so many key events in life - birthdays, weddings, funerals, Valentine's, just because... lots more things than knits are right for, really.  But what I did with the roving I showed you yesterday was, I think, the perfect replacement for an arrangement of blooms and a card that says "In Loving Memory."

The Comfort Cowl: A Short Story

For a year or two on either side of being twelve, I used to sleep over every Saturday night at a friend's house because her parents loved to go out dancing and didn't want to leave their daughter home alone even though she was too old for babysitters.  Their solution was amazing for us - I got endless permission to hang out with my friend on the best night of the week, her mom treated us to do-it-yourself pizza kits which was pure luxury, and we'd watch two hours of our favourite TV shows before reading ourselves to sleep with Tiger Beat magazines.

All that stopped when I moved away, but as adults we've continued to meet up at neighbourhood reunions, anniversary parties, and of course - funerals.  Her mom was at all those events and that made them all the more special to me, to see this woman who'd been so influential in those years (not to mention, all those Sunday breakfasts she made.)

Over Christmas, my friend's mom's health declined and then, just into the new year, she passed away.  Our other school friends were able to be at the visitation, stage one more sleepover, and attend the funeral, but I could only get back into town for an hour at the funeral home.  It didn't feel like enough.

The morning of the funeral, back in Toronto, I looked at my watch and thought of where my friends were now - in the church, wrapping up, girding themselves for the long drive up the hill to the cemetery.  And I just knew in that moment, I needed to spin the Malabrigo fiber I'd bought at Stitch before visiting the funeral home the day before, and knit something with it for my friend.

I spun all of it that night, fighting to draw out fibers that didn't want to give each other up.  The next night, I plied.  The day after that, when the yarn was dry, I started knitting - another drop stitch cowl, of course.  I finished on the fifth day and wrote my friend a letter on the sixth while the cowl dried out from its blocking bath. Yesterday, on the one-week anniversary of the funeral, I put it into the mail.

I hope this cowl captures for her something of the intensity of community support she got during the initial shock of her loss - the sleepover, the endless stream of neighbours and colleagues and lifelong friends who poured into the funeral home and filled the church, and the cars that climbed the winding road to the cemetery we've been to together so many times now.  The purple in these stitches recalls her mom, who loved to wear that colour, and the other colours and different sizes and shapes of handspun stitches stand for all the rest of us who drew together to support the family and friends her mom left behind.

And I hope that the process of making the yarn and knitting a loving memory will help me too, because man it is hard to keep losing key players from the generation who raised us.

(tomorrow: a happy story in the form of super pretty finished knitting.  see you then!)


Marianne said...

What a wonderful tribute to a woman that meant so much to you and others.

Mary Keenan said...

Thanks Marianne... I did question my sanity when my wrist got sore from pulling on the roving to spin it, but then I decided it was symbolic of grief and I should keep going :^)

Joan said...

This is like a warm hug from a childhood friend to her friend who is grieving for the loss of her mother. What a lovely thought. I hope your friend finds comfort in your gesture.

Mary Keenan said...

Thanks so much, Joan :^)