Broken Pieces Made Whole
I looked in my Dad’s closet for the best suit, shirt and tie to take to the funeral home. We knew that this separation was coming, but it still ripped our hearts in pieces to know that the man who wore these clothes was here no more.
Shades of blue dress shirts hung crisply pressed. The plaid one was worn with pressed jeans and sometimes his cowboy boots. The pinstripe oxford with dress pants and dress shoes to meetings. Each one brought sweet memories of a life well lived and now gone. No one else in the family would wear these clothes; what would be their purpose now? They were still a memory link to him, one that we were not ready to give up.
I decided to make a quilt from the shirts to be a tangible reminder of sweet memories of times with Dad. So I brought several of his shirts with me on a trip to Santa Fe as I stayed with my Mother-in-law while my husband hunted elk. Jean and I spent several evenings cutting the shirts into squares and gathering all the buttons in a small glass jar. The scattered pieces of fabric seemed to mock the fragments of my grieving heart. The edges were still too raw to be whole again. I needed more healing time to move forward with the quilt.
After several months of my heart being mended through the faithfulness of my Lord’s lovingkindness and mercies, it was time to finally piece the fabric memories together into something beautiful. With the help of my quilting mentor, a pattern began to emerge. The backing came from a blue and white fabric that decorated my parents’ bedroom. Stitches were sprinkled with tears. Tears of gratitude began to flow more than the tears of grief. The last memories of his suffering began to yield to sweet memories of his smile, his determined focus, and the satisfaction of shared work days finished well. With each stitch, my heart and mind were becoming whole again; forever changed and yet pieced together in a new way.
I prayed that the finished quilt would have the same comforting effect on my Mom. She opened the gift on Christmas morning. Seeing her surprise and tears of joy let me know that this simple process of piecing together scraps of fabric from Dad’s shirts had become a reminder of our Abba’s tender care for us. Grief - even death - is not where God leaves us. In time, as we give the pieces of our broken hearts to Him, He creates something beautiful.
He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.