This last March, my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. I won't get into too many details, besides to say that treatment has allowed him to have many more months doing the things he enjoys than we originally thought he'd have. That time included a lot of fishing with his friends and family, hunting and camping with long time companions, and family gatherings. My husband's family (my family!) is so close, everyone has come together and pitched in every ounce of extra time and energy they could. The love and support and the meaningful conversations that have come out of this experience has been overwhelming and wonderful all at once. To watch someone I love face their own mortality with such honesty and authenticity has been humbling to say the least.
Sadly, the time for treatment has come to an end and we are all trying to figure out how to say goodbye to this person we love so much, that we will miss so much. The last few weeks I have found myself "holding down the fort" at home while Lee is helping care for his mom and dad, with lots of nervous energy I could not channel.
This morning was no different, and as I gathered things for us to decorate the hospice room with, I had a rare moment of creative clarity and quickly grabbed some very special supplies and my sewing machine.
All summer long I picked the blossoms of the lavender, chamomile and calendula from the garden. It was a meditative task for me each morning, the garden has helped all of us stay grounded during the ups and downs of the last year. It never seemed like it would add up to much, it was literally a tiny handful each morning. I bagged up the dried herbs as they collected and set them aside for "later". I wanted to send some of these flowers to the hospital because of their special energy and incredible scent, but wasn't sure how to present them.
Another great love of my FIL's is Lee's Volkswagen Bus, he drove it for quite a few years for hunting and fishing trips until finally we got it back and parked it in our backyard. I walked past my scrap bin this morning and my last tiny little scrap of Heather Ross's VW bus fabric was peeking out of the mess. Right next to it was a Tula Pink print with jumping fish. I had cut that fabric out for a never-started advent calendar last holiday season, and the shape was very close to an eye pillow shape. I had the idea to make a quick (and I mean QUICK) eye pillow/scented pillow in these meaningful fabrics for him to have close by. I mixed the herbs with some organic rice, said a little blessing over the bowl and filled up the fabric form.
If nothing else, surely the scent and the whimsical and meaningful fabric print will be a comfort to everyone visiting. Or at least that's what I hope.
I will be eternally grateful to my father-in-law for taking me on this end of life journey. There has been surprising beauty and deep connections forged, and I am so grateful for that as well. If you look in the side bar you can see a book called Last Rights and I have found it to be incredibly helpful along the way.
Do any of you have family members or a friend in hospice care right now? I have enough materials to make five more of these little pillows, and if you email me at the Stumbles and Stitches address to connect I will send one out to your loved one right away. Please do send some positive energy our way, and thank you for letting me share this very personal part of my family's life with you.