There are days when the heart is too heavy to hold and today is one. Of course it stays in place but the pull of weight opens the place where tears are held. I have never been able to manage good bye very well. As a kid we moved a lot and the permanent nature of goodbye set in early connected to a feeling of loss of control. Living overseas from family means I have a lot of practice at goodbye now. Practice does not make perfect. However, I have grown to be better at managing life as I age. Practical thoughts creep in and take over making moving on part of the process. Part of the process is a review of what we take away.
Before the separation is a weird day of here and gone. We spent the day moving through the motions of life while anticipating departure. Gathering and sorting for packing takes longer than anticipated but in the end, when all the items of life were packed into a suitcase we sat, my beautiful sister in law and her daughter and shared the activity of women...
How fitting that on the last night of Kat's visit we were sewing down the binding of the quilt she made while here. On her last night she settled to sleep under her quilt in the corner of our house that has been all hers for 8 weeks.
The next day it was packed into her carry on luggage to cover her on the trip to her next destination before returning to college where it will be on her bed. Although Kat said that the quilt will remind her of me every night I know that not to be true. I know her days will fill with the thrills of being young and at college. But I do know that it will remind her of me in other ways.
As quilters, we know that in each stitch is sewn a memory of a time that will never come again. That each choice is made with care and a willingness to commit. That in the process of making a quilt we start as we do in life, as a whisper of thought that becomes a complex entity all its own. I can't say that every minute of making this quilt was fun but I can say that I am proud of Kat for so many qualities of life that are sewn into this quilt. I love her fabric choices and the Gee's Bend nature of the piecing which appears random but is well considered.
I admired her determination to finish this project when others her age might have visions of parties and nightclubs. There was plenty of that but she always came back to the project. It is a sign of her ability to set a challenge and to accomplish a goal. It would be easy to let the pieces fall by the wayside when things got tough. Selecting the fabric, learning the technique and then making it happen took more than a little bit of faith that it would all work out. Persist application is important when time is tight and a goal is in sight. This is something I understand as I am driven in the same way to finish what I start despite the obstacles in the path. I discovered an awareness of her confidence which plays an important role in the story. Her choices proved a natural eye for colour. Ah, the mystery item. I watched Kat pick the fabric to make the "promise of joy" stack at the start fascinated by here eye. I am used to helping people through this task but in this case my help was shunned. She'd ask if something was working and then in steadfast determination say, "NO. I want to do it myself...I know what I want." I get this too in a big way. Encouragement is good but the decision has to be mine!!
Behind the great choices, application and desire I could see something else that fascinated me. Her need to connect...to create a bond that surpassed the distance of life and times. I was curious as the days passed to understand how we knew we would love each other so much? From the first moment on the plane to the last stand at the airport it was a path of revelation that our gene pool was strong and we were both made of similar needs and strengths. In the good moments and the rare unpleasant ones, we always stood in the same place. Kat was here for two months. During that time I found a young woman eager to participate in life. Smart and capable, she fit where ever I put her with ease. I loved watching her move from quilt group to "Dance like Beyonce" classes with ease.
We spent a lot of time examining the different design roles possible in life to help fine tune Kat's college program. It was fun to share the things I love with someone perhaps driven to love the same things.
We took selfies!
Enjoyed the wild life...
And got silly in so many places.
Taking note of my scatty nature she made me sit down and write out a Sydney bucket list. It sits before me know with lines and ticks next to everything from sea to mountain, zoo to market. It isn't fair to have so many memories from such a short time when life is long.
We all enjoyed her visit and it was interesting to watch my boys interact with this additional female in our house. Each one had a moment...
Two weeks is a long time to share every minute but with Liz by my side we managed to stay on top of the details, work out the schedule and simply enjoy the simple things of life. It became clear that Liz is a woman that would be a treasure to have by my side every day. Her calm nature and beautiful spirit warmed my heart. It was an easy breath to find her in the kitchen in the morning cutting fruit and naturally setting things right. She is the glue that holds us all together and I love her dearly!
Then there is my brother...the smart one in the family full of a need to be doing something all the time and taking us all with him as he goes. There was a steadfast theme..."Who is with me?" as challenges were set and met. It was a nice fit.
When Rusty and Liz joined our little party we managed two weeks with Sydney in the background and friends by our sides. It has been a nice time out. I struggled with the pull of the shop and the duties piling up and enjoyed the air of leisure. It was fun to share some memories with my brother and to chat with Liz.
Yesterday, after two trips to the airport it was all over. As much as I hated the thought and wanted to savour the spirit, we directly moved my studio back into what had been Kat's bedroom. Like her quilt, I have a life lasting feeling of her presence in my studio now. However, shortly after that I saw this...
I realised I am not the only one worn out and drained. John too has working hard to keep the machine going. Overseas family visits are full of energy, activity and reignited love. All the emotions of sharing holidays and memories happen at once with days filled with activities. It isn't really natural to go sight seeing every day for two weeks and the pace can be exhausting. As a pisces I am used to coming and going at the same time...it is my nature. Today I find myself quiet in my head from my empty heart and in a way that is good. Life isn't always fair but it can be good if you let it.
As I reflect I see a good side to the goodbye. It is the aftermath of sharing so intently who we are. If we were together all the time would we see each other so clearly? So deeply? Would we understand the tug of love for what it is? Do we see the good more clearly for the bye???