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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Amy and Ella (and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Magic Baby Quilt)

I've been taking my dog for walks around the duck pond a few miles from our house lately, and while I walk, I think. Sometimes I think about life and sometimes I think about the ducks, who swim along the waters edge, trailing me, as I make my way around. They honk, honk, honk at me, as if to say "I'm starving! Did you bring me anything to eat?"

Ever since I fell in love with my dog, Lulu, I have developed this soft spot for animals. I can't stand to think of them hungry or neglected. Maybe that, coupled with the fact that I too know what it feels like to be hungry and needy, makes me feel enormously sorry for them.

So, of course, I've started bringing them food.

It's one of the benefits of pain and sorrow . . . once you feel it, you don't want others to feel it. And when you see them feeling it, you can't help but reach out and try to soften the blow.

But how do you soften the blow? With soft words?--I'm so sorry--soft prayers?--God be with you as you sorrow--soft blankets? --May I offer you a place to bury your head and cry. A place we have stitched together with love and compassion. You are not alone in your suffering. We have been there. We have all been there.  

I don't know if it's possible to soften life's blows, all I know is that we have to try. 

I recently heard a story about a mother who loses her child. It's an old story. A mother loses a baby. She is not the only person in the world to lose a baby--I could name dozens off the top of my head, and that's just who I know personally. I suspect you could name dozens too, but no matter how many mothers lose their babies, each story will always be immediate and deeply personal. And above all, agonizing. My sister, Melanie lost a baby 12 years ago. His name was Matthew and he lived for 12 hours.

Her only son.

You could say that sometimes bad things happen, and draw little analogies about life's challenges, but it doesn't help when you're the one suffering. I'm going to draw little analogies anyway.

A few weeks ago my daughter filled the car up with Diesel gas. It felt like a catastrophe at the time, but out of all the stress and worry we found something we've been looking for for a long, long time--a decent mechanic who we can trust 100% and who makes house calls and who only charges half the price of other mechanics. And who, when we said, "Thank you for your help," he said, "Thank you for the work."  

And like last week when my hub lost the remote control . . . he was tearing the house apart, meanwhile my boys couldn't change the channel so guess what they were stuck watching? The 700 club with Pat Robertson. Seems like a bum deal for a 12-year-old boy, but you know what they said about it?

"I'm kinda glad dad lost the remote because we got to watch all these miracles of Jesus Christ."

There's a moral here. There's a definite moral here. When bad things happen we often find what we've been looking for, and we get to watch the miracles of Jesus Christ.

God blesses the broken road that leads us back to him.

Meanwhile, the broken road smarts something fierce at times, and we need to try to soften those blows.

So I told my sister about Amy and the first thing she said was, "I want to make her a quilt!" She already had a lot of material because she's been collecting flannel for a while now, hoping for an opportunity to bring comfort to those who are going through the same loss she did.

Below is the fabric she chose to make the blanket for Amy. She chose white, which represents purity and the heavenly place where Ella now resides.

This is the finished product, which I mailed off to Amy this morning.

My sister and I decided that we would send Amy a small receiving blanket--the one pictured above--that she could keep forever.  Something just for her.

But we are also going to make a Magic Baby Quilt, which, when completed, we will send to Amy to kick off our Sisterhood of the Traveling Magic Baby Quilt project.  She will keep the quilt as long as she needs to, until she finds the next recipient--someone going through the same loss--and then she will pass the Magic Baby Quilt along.

And so on and so on and so on.

The magic will be grow stronger every time a mother receives the blanket and passes it on.

Along with the Magic Baby Quilt, there will be a Magic Baby Book. We will call it something like Letters to Heaven. Each mother who receives the notebook will write the name of her child in the book, along with a letter to her child. After a while, the book will be filled with letters to Heaven, which will hopefully be cathartic and bring comfort to many mourning mothers.


How will the quilt be made? What will it look like? I was just getting to that.

The quilt will be made up of flannel fabric sent in by you. If you've lost a baby, or even an adult child, I am asking for you to send me flannel fabric--as much or as little as you like--which represents your child, along with your child's full name and birth date. We will cut the fabric into quilt blocks in honor of your child. We will then print your child's name and birth date onto clear iron-on decals and iron it into the corner of their quilt block(s).

I am thinking big. I want a lot of material so we can get a lot of baby quilts circulating.

I'm soliciting material from people I know who have lost a child, but if  you've lost a child or know someone who has, please spread the word and join our efforts.

If you would like to include a letter to your child before the magic book is delivered to Amy, please email the letter to me at  You can also send the letters snail mail. Email me for my address.

Look to it, peeps!

P.s. To keep updated on Amy's story, you can find her on my sidebar at My Infernal Journal.


Jen said...

What a beautiful idea and thank you so much for doing this for my sister. My heart is full.

Simply Topaz said...

That is such a beautiful idea! Seriously, beautiful. What a blessing I am sure both the quilt and the book with the letters will be.

Welcome to the Garden of Egan said...

You are so amazing and that is such a good idea! I read Amy's story and just cried.

Susan Anderson said...

This is sheer genius and inspiration. I am thrilled that you are going to make this happen!


Connie said...

What a generous, wonderful thing to do for these grieving parents! This is the type of thing that makes us think, "why didn't I think of that?"

Bless you for all you're doing.

Kazzy said...

I am sitting here in my pjs, watching one of my own babies do his homework, and I am crying like a baby. I think you are awesome.

Pitterle Postings said...

What a thoughtful, beautiful, heartwarming, compassionate, and loving thing to do. You are totally amazing.

TisforTonya said...

This is a beautiful idea...

I have yet to put my loss into words - 12 years and it's not something I talk about much... but I'll try.

Of course, I have to stop crying first.

Momza said...

"Charity Never Faileth"...when words fail, actions speak volumes.
Thank you so much for providing a way to show our love for one another.
We so needed this service to help express our desire to "mourn with those that mourn".
Magic quilts does this perfectly!
Be on the look-out for loads of fabric!!
Much love,

Wendy said...

What an amazing thing you are doing!! Definitely an inspired idea to help these mothers who are dealing with this kind of tragedy!

Sandi said...

Love this idea! You really are amazing :)

The Crash Test Dummy said...

T and Momza, I hope you will both contribute!

Love you all! Thank you for your kind words.

sariqd said...
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sariqd said...


Susan said...

I'm in Florida right now, but I want to contribute when we get back. I lost a baby a few years ago--only 16 weeks along. But he was big enough that we knew he was a boy. We named him and buried him in a cemetery on my parents farm next another baby that had died a hundred years prior.

Thanks for doing this. It's a great idea. I have another friend who lost a baby at twenty weeks. I'm going to refer her to your blog.

Anne said...

That's a beautiful thing to do. I'm sure so many hearts will be touched.