Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mackenzie Love (Quilted in Memory of Aleah)

Thanks to the gang-buster lightening quick humming of sewing machines across America, Mackenzie's D-Love quilt will go out in tomorrow's mail.


There is a special little girl in Valdosta, GA that is very near and dear to the heart of my mother.  She is her best friend's granddaughter.  Her best friend became a grandmother to triplets 6 months old before my mother became the grandmother to twins.  While I've never met Mackenzie, the love that my mother and her best friend have for her is contagious.  Also, as someone who was the mother to a child with special needs, I can empathize with what her mother is experiencing.  I was dejected when I learned that Mackenzie had entered hospice.  I knew then that it wasn't a coincidence that I'd been placed in the heal circle at do.good stitches- a group making quilts specifically for people in hospice. Nicke does an excellent job of explaining our mission on her blog:
the HEAL circle will make quilts that will be donated to hospice patients and their families.
now, i understand that the role of hospice is comfort care and not healing but i hope the quilts we donate will help heal the hearts of the families.
When I started quilting, I had it in my mind to participate in such charity bees.  My Ada and Aleah had both been given quilts while in the NICU, from local groups, and from groups like Project Linus.  5 years after her death, I still appreciate the quilts that Aleah received in the NICU and PICU, so I know from personal experience that they can help heal, if only to prove that the journey isn't a lonely one.  After all the meals have been delivered, after all the cards have been received, after all the flowers have died, a quilt can serve as a lasting reminder that the life and death of someone important to you was important to someone else- even if that person is a complete stranger.

These "strangers" involved in the making of this quilt are:


I put out the call on the do good stitches, and also asked if the ladies of my Ba{m}S group if they'd like to be involved.  The response was overwhelming, especially since I asked for the blocks to be made in the week.  I added a few extra days for mailing.  It took me about two weeks to get the top put together and backing made, and to quilt it.  I'll admit that I did attach the binding by machine, partly for expediency, partly for ease. For shame!    The quilt top is made of thirty 12" blocks.


The top ended up being so big that I struggled with the back.  I'd planned to use 2 pieces of fabric that I had in my stash, but oops, it was a bit short, so I made 5 more 10" blocks to be placed in a strip down the back.    Some of the blocks had linen in them ( <3 ) so I used the opportunity to put some more linen in it!  Even with that additional piece, the fabric on the back was pretty close, but I got it quilted.


I love me some straight line quilting. My eyes just light up when I see quilts that have been straight line quilted, not in the ditch, but in some fashion that compliments the quilt.  The quilting for this quilt were inspired by some of the blocks.  The ones made by Kelligh have a lot of geometric overtones in them, particularly a rhombus- or maybe more trapezoidial.  Either way, I wanted to work that shape into the quilting, so I did a diagonal double through the quilt, and then quilted either side of the middle seams.  I'm pleased with the overall look of the quilt, and I am more than happy to send this off in the mail.  I do wish just a little bit that I had quilted the diagonal lines from bottom to top instead of top to bottom.  Does that make sense?  I like the look of the quilting on the back, and wish it were on the front.  Minor thing- but there ya go.

I'm so proud of the ladies in my bee, and seriously, did I mention this was the quickest turn around on bee blocks, (?) that I've decided to enter this quilt in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival  to hopefully be considered for the category of bee quilts.

As I mentioned, this quilt was made specifically for Mackenzie, but also for me.  I'm able to pay forward some of the kindness I received during the life and death of my Aleah.  For that reason, it is also special to me.  I hope to one day see a picture of Mackenzie with it.  I learned that women all over the world are more than happy to share parts of themselves with people whom they've never met before.  If you aren't a member of do.good.stitches- go- and get on that list to be placed into a group.  There is a link to the form on the linky in the sentence before this one. 

Getting Mackenzie this quilt before she leaves this earth to go and play with my Aleah was a top priority in my life, and I am so happy to have gotten it done.  Perhaps it is with more pride than I should have.  I'll confess, I don't cry much since Aleah died.  Not a lot of things compare to the ache in your heart once you've said goodbye to a part of you that you wanted so badly to keep.  The parents of children with special needs are often short-changed, because society can't imagine raising a child with special needs.  Death almost seems like a relief to them, whether people mean to imply it or not.  Now, I believe that my Aleah is in heaven right this very minute, and while that gives me hope, her death has never given me any sort of relief, and I would pluck her out of the sky right now if I had the opportunity.  I wouldn't make her "normal", but would love her with the unconditional love a mother shows a child- exactly how she was.  

Making this quilt has allowed me to heal a little, because I've cried a few tears in the process. I'm so sad that another mother with a child with special needs will go through this journey, and that people, will probably say things to her that should be left unsaid.   I hope this quilt comforts her, and that she knows that she isn't alone.  My heart aches for LaShaun like it hasn't for anyone in awhile.  I've avoided that ache simply by putting up a wall and just not looking over it. These things have just all worked together.  Mackenzie is so important to my mother that I just can't choose to not see it.  Having had been placed in the heal circle at do.good, I had, at my fingertips, a group of women who could help me get it done.  It was making the choice to get it done that was the hard part.  A simple email to Nicke solved that problem for me.  It was put into motion.  I learned while making this quilt that it is never too late to move forward.  If you are anything like me, quilting is a very personal time in which you get to do a lot of thinking, not about dinner tomorrow, or what a pig says, how a silent e works, who poked who first, or where someones night night might be, but that "selfish" sort of thinking you can't drown out with a boob tube or a book.  I knew that while making this quilt, I'd be doing that sort of thinking that I've avoided before. I got mad at people all over again.  I got over some things, just because it's time to let it go.  I shed some tears y'all.  It was very liberating.  That's why this quilt is special to me.  To all the ladies who've shed some tears with me, thank you so much for being a part of this process with me. Thank you. It has truly been an honor. 

Amy's Creative Side


Cherie said...

The quilt looks amazing. You and all the ladies did an amazing job on it!
The story behind the process is very touching you should all feel very blessed and proud to have such great talent =D

Ariane said...

This quilt is a amazing. What a great gift!

purduepam said...

What an amazing quilt and story. Hope it helped in your healing journey.

Laura said...

Beautiful story, beautiful quilt.

rachael {imagine gnats} said...

oh, Manda :) this is so incredibly sweet and touching. the quilt is beautiful and i am so glad that my tears were a part of it as well. thank you for asking. xoxo

CitricSugar said...

I'm sitting here in tears - that is a very touching story that makes your quilt even more beautiful for all the love that went into it.

**nicke... said...

i just love you to death! xoxoxoxo it is so beautiful and i am so happy i was a small part of this very very special quilt!

Wendi said...

Oh Manda, now I'm sitting here crying! What a wonderful and beautiful quilt in so many, many ways.

Charlotte said...

such a beautiful quilt for a very special little girl. Thank you so much for sharing the story behind it xx

Carolyn S. said...

oh sweetie. A hug to you. Good to cry and remember, even the biggest pain.

make.share.give said...

Love the bright colors chosen for this quilt. Love reading your story- my son is also special needs. I'm proud of you for letting go of things- that's really hard.

Robin said...

Wow. What an intimate and moving story. And the quilt is just beautiful and is clearly pieced with enormous heart and love. It will surely be a comfort. Thank you so much for sharing.

Melinda said...

Beautiful quilt and beautiful story. Thank you for making the quilt and sharing it with us.

Kelsey said...

What a beautiful story! I am proud and honored to have some of my blocks be a part of this special quilt. Hugs!

Simply Sandy said...

I am so touched by this beautiful story. I am sure McKenzie and her family will find comfort in this darling quilt. You did good!

Beth said...

The quilt is beautiful and your story is so touching. I hope all find comfort in the work that was accomplished.