This entry might get a bit personal and perhaps morose. It's not my story to share, only my takeaway looking back.
Today I finished a quilt top that in essence has been 2 years in the making. I actually came up with the design not quite a year ago while participating in the inspiring "30 days of quilt design" challenge hosted by Rachel of Stitched in Color on Instagram. It began as a couple of sketches in my sketchbook, dated August 29, 2016 — what would have been my friend Brandy's 41st birthday (or maybe her 42nd).
Brandy and I had consistently celebrated and acknowledged one another's birthdays over the years since we first became friends while working together in NYC in the late 1990s. Even when one of us moved clear across the country (first she to California, though she returned to NY before I made my move to Portland) we stayed in touch. And even when communication dropped off regularly, we ALWAYS sent cards on birthdays and texts or emails at the new year. Brandy and I became friends back when I studiously kept a Filo-fax with addresses and birthdays of everyone important to me. So August 29th has been on my radar for nearly 2 decades.
At the time of this challenge, that birthday was also commemorating a year (plus a couple of weeks) since she had taken her own life. I'm so thankful I got to see her and spend time with her the last time I visited NYC, almost exactly a year before that, and that J also got to meet her and enjoy a wonderful evening together. She seemed so happy with where her life was at the time, was raising an amazing, creative girl, talking about possibly moving out to the west coast with her daughter and her new husband if they could find the right work opportunities. The glimpse that I got into her world over the following year gave no indication to me of what would happen almost exactly a year after she and I last saw one another. I still have no idea.
But I know I miss her. I miss her often, not just on her birthday. I think about her when I pass a house in my neighborhood that goes over the top with Halloween decorations to which Brandy once responded when I posted a photo on Instagram. I think about her when I see a card she sent me a bit after I moved to Portland, that has been up on an inspiration board in what used to be my sewing studio. I think about her if I hear some Bjork (which isn't so often these days) or see a classically beautiful B/W landscape photograph... one of her specialties.
So back to the quilt. After playing around with those different sketches I made, I decided to expand on one of them, working out a mock-up in EQ7. I already knew that I wanted to bring this one to fruition — not something that happens with the majority of my sketches in my book or in EQ7. But this stayed in my mind.
It was while cutting pieces from my black and white fabrics for my 2nd planned charm quilt for the You're a Charm Quilt Along that I instinctually started setting aside the fabrics with mostly blacks and dark greys.
It suddenly felt like the right time to start working on Brandy's Quilt, as it has been labeled in my computer since last August. And it really was the right time.
In less than a month I've created a quilt top that is pretty darn close to the computer mock-up I have, and which speaks to me of Brandy specifically and mourning as I know it. Several of the fabrics used have a significance to me, or an association I attribute to her, and the overall design speaks to seeing a loved one with depression.
Always make it known that a beacon shines...