I hardly even had to ask. All I had to say was, ” I do this butterfly thing on my blog…” and Bobbie put the butterfly in her hair. Sherri wore the perfect backdrop to showcase brilliant glittering wings. Leslee gave her butterfly a deep blue sky and paisley clouds. That was last week.
“I brought this butterfly my daughter made.” Leslee casually mentioned when I saw her today at our stitching date. Holding a red and yellow construction paper treasure out to me, her face shone with playful pride and delight. “I want it back.” I nod mutely, a little awed by her generosity and trust. I don’t often get to make a picture with something so powerful. “I can use my phone,” I say. “We’ll do it just like before, by the window, before we go.”
We have to pull out both self-storing leaves of the vintage teak table for everyone to find a place to sit, and still, there isn’t enough room for all our stuff. I keep my kit of colored pencils, glue and doilies under my chair with my London Fog purse in red fake patent alligator. I sit next to Maureen, and we talk about her father. He died four years ago, today. The anniversary of her mom’s death was just 2 weeks ago. “There’s a lot of death in March,” she says. I nod. “My mom’s is coming up on Saturday.” “Oh,” she replies softly. It’s b’shert – meant to be – that we should choose these particular chairs today.
Maureen is embroidering a small landscape of one their favorite places, where she and her father had happy times. She painted the lake, trees and shore line with water color, to deepen the tone of her colorful threads. “It’s like those memento mori embroideries on silk,” I point out. “They were painted and embroidered too.” She hadn’t thought of that before. It’s reassuring to discover that, without realizing it, you are comforting yourself in the same exact way other women did, long long ago. Everyone at the table is working on some similar project, channeling stories of love and loss into stitched loops and dashes, like a binary code of personal history.
There’s no pretending here. Some of the people we need most are gone. Around this table, it’s ok to talk about them, as long as you are doing something with your hands.