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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.


The Songer said...

Just Beautiful, <3 <3 <3 every word and picture.

Air hugs to Stan, Lila, and the Familia!

Crash, this is a wonderful thing you've started!

LKP said...

crash, you've got me all a-mess here. my eyes can't take this! they've gone all mushy on me and are bawling like there's no tomorrow. wow! what an experience. what an amazing show of God's hand in everything! you're fantastic for following the promptings of the Spirit to start this and keep the magic going. ::big hugs::

cfoxes33 said...

Now I am in tears. What a wonderful experience you had. How wonderful that God brought all of you together. His ways are always the best ways.

TisforTonya said...

this is gorgeous... I've never been prouder to be a part of something - albeit a tiny little pink embroidered part.

I wasn't ready for tears this morning - but here they are!

springrose said...

I knew just KNEW when Lila put on her blog post that they had seen a hand cart company that it was you and your youth! I just knew it was you they were seeing! What an experience this has been reading and participating in just a little. I am excited to get started on the next quilt, and chomping at the bit waiting for people to start sending fabric so I have more then what you, and I and Idaho Falls have sent (sorry I forgot her name, pregnant brain!) I am hoping once school is back in session that peoples lives will settle back down and they will jump on the band wagon again! Did you give Stan the book of stories? I can just imagine them sitting up in bed reading them with the Magic Quilt spread accross them! And the angels in the room, I know exactly what you mean!

Sue said...

Thanks A LOT! I was all up in here trying to be a big meanie and make my kids do their chores this morning, then I read this and now MY eyes are sweating and my kids NEVER take me seriously when I'm all sweaty.

That's seriously an amazing story. You've even softened my heart a tiny bit towards treking.
Believe me when I tell you nothing less than real magic could manage that little trick.

Amanda said...

WOW! WOW! Tears galore and no words to express how amazing this all has been.

I'm so happy that you had a chance to meet Stan & Lila, I warned you about how special they are :)

Like Springrose, when I read Lila's update about Martin's Cove I wondered, "Could it be that Crash is in the same place?"

I'm crying again, just thinking about how wonderful Heavenly Father is and how His plan always makes sense in the end, even when we don't understand it while we're going through it.

Each day, I am more grateful for this touching project of the magic quilt. Seeing this all unfold strengthens my testimony to be faithful, find blessings in everything - especially when life is overwhelming, and to follow inspired promptings even when they don't make sense to you.

I was at a loss for how I could support Stan and Lila through this difficult journey and then the quilt appeared. The magic quilt has turned out to be a treasured gift with meaning and connection beyond anything I could have imagined.

I think every LDS ward and branch needs to have it's very own magic quilt to circulate amongst themselves and help those in need.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing those words and the magic. I love this.

Jodi Gallagher said...

Wow you have me all in a mess! What a great post! I loved it and it really made me cry! What a great experiance for you getting to me Stan and his family. Made me really miss my mom and dad. Trek looks like it was awesome too. Wish Kailee would have gone :(

Jodi Gallagher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandi said...

I am bawling my eyes out as well. You might have just caused a world wide tissue shortage! Loved every word of this. Crazy Cool indeed!

Martha said...

Great story. Glad you made it through your trek and I'm happy that Lila and Stan have the quilt to help them through. I guess I better get on board for the next quilt.

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

It really is amazing how connected we all are. the world is truly smaller than you think. this is so wonderful.

another great thing about the quilt is comforted me by just the thought and gesture. thank you all for that.

April said...

I have to go redo my makeup for work. Thanks for sharing this touching experience.

Anjeny said...

I knew there was a reason I put off reading this post until today, this time, when there is no one at home...every single member of my family, even my little girl is gone doing something somewhere and I am all alone here at home.

I am completely bawling out here with goosebumps and all...the story of Stan is soooo beautiful and make me soooo honored to be part of a such a beautiful thing that you've started. And to have him see your handcart company. I am totally blubbering mess right now. Thank you so much for sharing this. Love ya bunches!!

Aunt Claudia said...

Isn't this what God does with our lives? Takes all the scraps in our joourney and sews them together with strength. love and healing. What a beautiful project! Thanks for sharing with us ♥♥