My mother-in-law passed away this month three years ago. Her death was sudden and unexpected — a terrible accident — and it still feels like a horrible surprise that she isn’t still with us. Her mother lived well into her 90s, and my husband and I always assumed the same would be true for his mother. We miss her, especially this time of year. Both because it is the anniversary of her passing, and because ever since our son was born, we used to host Christmas and she and my father-in-law would come to visit. It still feels strange and wrong to be planning Christmas in our house without taking them into consideration.
Recently Avlea Folk Embroidery released a small design with Scandinavian roots. I showed the kit to Eric and said I’d make it for him sometime next year. He saw it and said, oh yeah, he’d like that. He said it reminded him of the kind of thing his mother would have liked. I put it aside, planning to pick it up later.
Then someone on the Avlea forum posted about the design, and shared that she had stitched the whole thing in a single Sunday. In one day, I thought? Then I thought, there are ten days until Christmas. If she could stitch it in a single day, surely I could do so in ten? So yesterday I pulled out the kit and got to work.
I wasn’t expecting the work to be so sad. As I stitch, I can’t help but think of my mother-in-law. How if she were still living, I would probably be making the piece for her. I like stitching because it is meditative. But I wasn’t expecting that in this case, I’d be mediating on someone we’ve lost, and how we miss her. But I am. It is sad, but also good. It is good to think of her, and how kind and smart and wise she was. Each stitch, is a little meditation on her and how she is missed.
I’m half trying to keep the gift a secret from my husband. I work on it when he’s around, but I carefully don’t mention it and what it is. So far, he hasn’t noticed. He knows I’m sitting there stitching, but he isn’t actually paying attention to what it is I’m working on. If I manage to get it ready for Christmas for him without him ever noticing, I plan to tease him about it a bit. But only because gentle teasing is how we operate together. Mostly I’ll be glad to give him this little meditation on his mother.