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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Magic and Aloha

I'm excited to announce another contribution to our 2nd magic quilt. This one is from the soon-to-be author, Donald J. Cary whose first book, Bumpy Landings is coming out in January. Don grew up in Laie, Hawaii (WOOHOO)! He should be one of my homies from the hood but I didn't really know him in Hawaii, I only knew of him. Now, thanks to blogging, I'm proud to call him a friend.

MUCH MAHALO Don, for sharing.


Given the circumstances, a trip to Hawaii seemed like a very selfish move. My wife was living half a continent away so she could get medical treatment, and my two young girls were finishing their last year of school in Utah before we were to sell the house and move away from our vital support network of family and friends.

Yet given the circumstances, a touch of selfishness was just what I needed. And twentieth high school reunions only come once in a lifetime. So with assurances from both heaven and earth that my loved ones would be well taken care of in my absence, I boarded a plane for Honolulu.

Near the top of my list was the task to find an Aloha shirt or two – a classy one like the kind I’d grown up with. After searching high and low, I found two.

My contribution to the Magic Quilt is one of them.

The months that followed this short, personal vacation were by far the toughest of my life. With any luck the future won’t hold any even remotely that hard.

My wife was sick, and had been for years. We didn’t know what was wrong, other than she had a list of symptoms as long as all of our arms, and the doctors couldn’t find anything in her battery of tests. Headaches, tremors, neuropathy, and brain fog joined fatigue, sensitivity to everyday chemicals, and drastic, unexplained weight loss. The best we could do was find costly, time-consuming band-aids that would slow the symptoms, but solid answers were few and far between.

My role in this adventure was to be Superman. Hold down a job, take care of two small children, help my wife find answers, and keep the family afloat. The only way I could see to do this was to sell our dream home, pay off our six-digit medical debt, and move our family to a Texas where my wife had found some promising treatments.

I wore this shirt as I packed the house, loaded the moving truck, and drove to Texas. I wore it to hundreds of appointments with dozens of different doctors. I wore it while trying desperately to provide two little girls a normal life amidst utterly insane circumstances. I wore it to writing conferences where I tried to find a little bit of normal for myself.

I wore it to the hospital where my wife lay dying of malnutrition, despite bottle after bottle of nutrients being pumped into her veins. I wore this shirt as I pleaded with heaven to spare her life – if not for me, then for our children.

And I wore it when those prayers were answered.

I wore it to the doctor who figured out why my wife couldn’t digest her food, and found the one enzyme that would work for her. I wore it to the doctor who diagnosed our whole family as having Lyme disease.

I wore it as I watched my wife gain dozens of pounds. I wore it as I helped her move home, and later join us on our first family vacation in years.

I wore it until the edges tattered and the seams ripped out and I couldn’t wear it any more.

I wore it until only the magic was left. The magic, and the Aloha.

And now I’m sending it to you, so the magic can help someone else.

God bless you.

Don Carey

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Magic Wand

I posted this on my Crash Test Dummy blog last week and I wanted to re-post it here for my Magic Quilt supporters.

I also wanted to post a link to a powerful story From Susan Scribble. She said we could include it in our Magic Quilt book and she's going to send fabric. YAY! I will post the story in full as soon as I get photos of the fabric. If you want a sneak peak click on the following link: Mighty Man Adam

Okay, on the my re-post:

Last Sunday I laid in the room in the house where my great grandmother Constance was born over 100 years ago. I read the beautiful history her daughter, my grandmother, wrote about her and her family and I got choked up. These are my people, I thought.

I have people.

Constance is one of my people. She has a mysteriously tragic story, which I will tell sometime. She did something that caused deep shame to her family and had an indelible effect on her posterity. But she is mine. I come from her. And I am honored to have her as my people.

I wish I could hug her right now and tell her that all love is a blessing, even if it's short lived. And that no love is wasted, even if it's ill-timed.

I hope she saw it that way when she was alive, but I'll never know.

This post is not about my great grandmother. This post is about April from Springrose Journals, who is making the 2nd magic quilt. She needs our help.

Springrose didn't do anything shameful, but I wish I could hug her too and tell her that all love is a blessing, even if it's short lived. And that no love is wasted, even if it's ill-timed.

Springrose just lost a baby. It's the second pregnancy that has ended in a miscarriage in the past year and a half. I was hoping the magic quilt would miraculously keep her baby growing, but it was not to be. So now she needs our magic more than ever. She needs more fabric to finish the quilt because she is anxious to work and get her mind off her grief.

Stan and Lila (the recipients of the first magic quilt) are sending her fabric as we speak. My MIL is donating fabric as well, and I brought home a quilted shower curtain from my aunt and pillow cases from my grandmother.

Please, if you have a story of healing or faith or inspiration or comfort or joy, (and who doesn't) and you have a piece of fabric which either represents that story or which you actually wore or used, please send it to April so she can make some magic and experience comfort from you.

Please, please, pretty please. Dummies with stone cold hearts don't usually beg but here I am on hands and knees, because not only is one of our friends in need of a little magic, but there is a whole world in need of a little magic.

Let's be the wand.

Here's a poignant comment on my Magic Quilt blog from Aunt Claudia:

Isn't this what God does with our lives? Takes all the scraps in our journey and sews them together with strength, love and healing.

Did I already say let's be the wand?

I know my great grandmother Constance would give Springrose a hug too. There was no written record of her life, but at her funeral her bishop said, "Whenever I had to call upon the Relief Society to aid me in giving service to those in need of help, Sister Connie was always the first one to come forth."

See why I'm so honored to have her as my people?

In her scrapbook two words, "my favorite" were written next to this poem:

The Holy Supper is kept, indeed
In whatso we share with another's need;
Not what we give, but what we share,--
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three,
Himself, his hungering neighbor and me.

(From The Vision of Sir Launfal).

If you want to send fabric, email me for the address. MAHALO!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Today was a very humbling day for me because I got to meet the first recipient of the magic quilt, Stan Tolman and his wife, Lila.

It was amazing.

I was already verklempt before I met them because I had read their latest blog update and seen this photo of Stan with his grand kids snuggled up in the magic quilt.


That's how I would describe the sensation--the charge of emotion that blew through me. Let's just say my eyes started sweating at the sight of it.

After all of our dreaming and planning and sharing and sewing . . . and now the quilt is REAL. It's REALLY REAL. And it's traveling around doing what it was made to do, spreading love and bringing comfort to those in need.

Does anyone else feel like a group hug is in order?

Stan has gall bladder cancer. It's rare. And it's hard to treat. In fact, none of the treatments have worked and Stan and his family have decided to stop with the medical procedures and enjoy life. After they decided to quit treatment they began traveling across the country to visit their family. They see it not as the end, but as a new beginning.


So Stan received the magic quilt the night before they embarked on their final journey together, and he has been taking it with him and sharing it's message. Lila says on her blog:

I would like everyone who was involved in this magic to know how much it has touched our lives and the lives of all of those who love Stan.

GET THIS! After stopping in Nauvoo and Mt. Rushmore, they were driving past Martin's Cove on Friday morning and decided to stop. Lila says:

It was too early for the buildings to be open so we started the two-mile walk to the cove. We took it slow and stopped at the benches to admire the view and rest. Stan was getting very tired but we could see a little cabin ahead and pushed on. The cabin was manned by 3 senior missionaries. Stan sat on the bench and asked them if this was the cove. When they said that it was a mile farther up the trail you could see the pain on his face because he wanted so much to see the cove, but he knew he could go no father. I explained to the missionaries his condition and his desire. One of the sisters went into the cabin. She used a walk-e-talkie to ask them to send a rover up to pick up Stan. A wonderful missionary drove us up to the cove. At the cove he explained what happened there and told us we could take all the time we wanted. The spirit was so strong as we held onto each other and looked at the spot where so many had given so much. I couldn’t stop crying. Their faith was so strong and even though their trials were great, they were never alone. As we drove back down I looked out across the mountains and saw a handcart company coming in. It was about a mile long of youth and leaders experiencing their own faith promoting experiences.

Okay that mile-long handcart company having their own faith promoting experiences . . . that was ME and MY stake! Lila saw MY handcart company, and she was right, there were several faith promoting experiences going on.

How crazy cool is that?

Lila goes on to say:

Friday night we were in the arms of our sweet little grandchildren. Stan wanted them all to see the 'magic quilt'. As I told them the story of the quilt I could see Stan lovingly rub his hand over the quilt. This is when I knew how much the quilt meant to him.

This alone makes it worth all the effort, but I know this is just the beginning. I can feel the momentum. I know that the more people the magic quilt touches and comforts the more power and comfort it will be able to bring to those who need it.

You get me?

So today, not only did I get to meet Stan and Lila . . .

I also got to meet two of their sons, one daughter-in-law, and three of their grand kids.

Did I already say it was amazing? Because it WAS amazing.

First of all, they are all gorgeous--the whole lot of them. Seriously, the look good in their photos, but double that in real life. Stan is so dang handsome. And Lila is muy bonita. (Their offspring were kinda easy on the eyes as well.)

Second of all, they are shiny people. As Lenny Kravitz would say, their eyes could light the world on fire.

We talked for a while and got acquainted and I told them how the magic quilt got started and told them about some of the quilt blocks and about Kritta finally being able to get pregnant after she started the quilt and how she felt the quilt really was magic because it got her through her high risk pregnancy safe and sound.

But I forgot to tell him why I also gave him a Mozart CD along with the quilt. I haven't told you guys that yet either. I promise to tell that story soon.

Lila told me that once they accepted Stan's condition she began praying that he wouldn't have to suffer. She prayed it over and over, but then one day she received an answer in the form of a voice in her head saying in effect, "why would want to take these learning lessons away from him?"

That made me cry because, darnit, isn't it just the truth? Since I've been playing pioneer woman as of late, I've been thinking a lot about the lessons that come from our struggles.

One of my favorite parts of the trek was the hardest part of the trek--the woman's pull, where the women had to push/pull their handcarts up a steep, sandy hill without any help from the men. It was super tough, but I felt close to the other four girls in my handcart family in a way you only feel close to people you go through struggles with. I loved them. Whole heartedly.

And isn't love all you really need?

Love is the magic.

While we were pulling our handcarts up the hill, the men had to stand in silence, lined up along the trail with their hats over their hearts. My husband said later how much he wanted to step in and push our handcart, but he wasn't allowed.

I guess sometimes we just have to stand by and watch those we love receive their lessons.

But you know what? When I started up the hill and saw all the men standing in silence on either side of the trail I just knew I could do it. Their energy! It was powerful! To me they represented all those who have passed on before us, who are silently cheering us on along the sidelines. Wanting us to make it to the top of our own challenges.

I wish I had told Stan about the day my twins were born. About how I was panicking because one of the twins had dropped into the birth canal way too soon, at only 29 weeks. My husband laid his hands on me and gave me a blessing and I was instantly calm.

"It's okay," I told him. "They aren't going to be born today."

But I had mistaken my instant peace for the answer I wanted to hear. While I didn't get what I wanted, and what I thought was best at the time, I got something better. I got a glimpse into the world beyond and while I was being rushed into an emergency c-section I could see that the room was completely full of angels, excited and cheering me on, so to speak. Two of them, a man and a woman, were physically touching me and helping me through each contraction.

I know there will be a room full of angels waiting to greet Stan when he takes his journey back. I feel so sad that he has to leave early, and yet there is a little tiny part of me that is excited for him. I told him so when I hugged him goodbye and wished him aloha oe. I didn't mean to tell him, it just slipped right out of my mouth. I hope it didn't make him feel bad.

And then I asked him to please say hello to my dad for me when he gets there. And to tell him I miss him. I didn't mean to say that either, but Stan nodded and said he would.

And then we hugged aloha oe again.