Monday 25 May 2015

Flight: A Finished Quilt (In Joy and Sorrow)

Eleven years ago in my first teaching job I met another teacher, R, and she and I became friends. Over the years the friendship strengthened and we developed both a remarkable professional relationship based on collaboration and similar teaching philosophies and a deep, personal friendship as we navigated marriages, children and life in general.

As a person, R was always smiling, always laughing, always good.  Being with her made my heart happy. She was a generous, kind, thoughtful, intelligent woman. I loved her so much that when she asked me to make quilts for her sons' "big boy beds" I agreed even though I am very strongly against commissions of any kind. You can read about Stone Arrow and Addition if you'd like to know more about how that process went.

When she was expecting her third child in four years I thought she was crazy but I was also sure she was having a girl. I was right! We went right to work plotting and planning her nursery design (you can read about my consulting services in a previous post). She ended up choosing a Bari J fabric for the main focal fabric but she also loved some Heather Bailey fabric and so I ordered it to make a baby quilt for her little girl. I also picked a chevron pattern using HSTs because she loved chevrons. I wanted to surprise her, so I never showed her what I had done. I now wish I had.

She and I were supposed to have a visit on the Tuesday so I could help take her mind off waiting for baby to arrive when she texted to tell me we would have to postpone because she was in labour. Her daughter, Sara, was born before noon. Everything seemed fine until a rough night Tuesday night resulted in Sara falling very ill followed by R. By Wednesday evening R was in a coma and she died the following Monday of an infection that got into her blood. She was 37 and left behind a newborn baby, a two-year-old and a three-year-old. There are no words for the grief her family is feeling, especially her mom with whom she was very close and her husband who now is raising three small children alone.

Today would have been her 38th birthday. I wish I could hug her and wish her happy birthday but instead I'm going to post about the quilt I have finished for her baby daughter, who will never know her. The baby is 100% healthy with no lasting side effects of the infection, but the lasting impact of never knowing your mom will be with her for her entire life.

Here is Flight, started in joy and finished in sorrow:

I took out the last name for this post.

The majority of the fabric comes from Heather Bailey's True Colours and Up Parasol lines. There is one print with peonies, her absolute favourite flower.

I shadow quilted the chevron shape which involved lots of stopping, readjusting and starting again.

The back is a single print, Lark in Loden by Heather Bailey.

This is a close up of the fabric. It is so beautiful and so like my friend but she didn't choose it because she wanted something with more colours to draw from for accents in the nursery.
I miss my friend every day. I desperately wish there was something I could do to help her devastated family. Instead I do my best to support them and send gifts of love, like this quilt. I have also offered, with the support of my quilty friends C and A, to make R's clothing into quilts for her children when her husband is ready to let go of her clothing. He has accepted the offer but isn't ready yet.

I miss you, dear friend.



  1. My sympathies...what a tragedy. What a great idea to use your friend's clothes to make quilts for the children. A great way to remember her. Thinking of you as you mourn.

  2. I am so very sorry to hear about your friend. I remember reading the posts about you making the quilts for her two little boys a while back. Thinking of you and your friend's family.

  3. Beautiful. I think of the family often and send positive thoughts their way.

  4. A beautiful tribute to your friend, Lynn. I don't really think I have the words to say what this story does to me... I tear up just trying to write a comment. Such little people without a mother... heartbreaking. Sending them (and you) lots of love.