|My daughter and my brother|
And quilters cope by quilting.
I have bags of my brother's clothes that might become quilts. For now, most of the clothes have been sitting in bags in a closet, because the energy was just so powerful and the feelings so overwhelming that I could not even open the bags.
Last weekend I made a little start. I washed all his shirts, even though the labels say 'dry clean' and 'do not tumble dry'. I did both of these things, because a quilt has to be washable. The shirts came out fine, but being made from 100% cotton, they did shrink some.
My brother had his dress shirts custom made when Maxwell's Clothiers came to town. They would take his measurements, and he would pick out his fabrics, shirt style (ie. cufflinks which he liked for dress shirts, or buttons) and a cuff monogram design.
Then his shirts would be taylor-made and mailed to him. They are beautifully constructed, personalized garments made from top quality cotton fabrics.
Garments that I am now cutting up into pieces, deconstructing and returning to yardage.
It's jarring, and sad, and brings back so many memories.
The fabric on the bottom left was the shirt he wore to his first chemo treatment. He still had his hair, and still had hope that he could beat cancer.
I know the only way to deal with grief is to power through it. There is no short cut, or way around it.
This will be a project that I can only work on in small blocks of time, because it's emotionally exhausting. So, every once and a while whenever I feel strong, I will visit with his shirts, and cut up the fabrics, and put the buttons in a jar. And I will cry, and listen to his CD, and remember him. And hope that I will be able to reconstruct all these pieces into something less painful, and maybe even comforting.
If you are interested in reading more about using quilts as part of the mourning process, you can visit one of my favorite websites - Womenfolk.