Two months ago I lost my best friend to cancer, and one week ago my youngest daughter tragically lost her birth mother. Death reminds me how vincible we are and every loss brings about it’s own kind of reflection and grief.
Shortly after the death of my best friend, her widower gave me an armful of blankets and sweaters that Gretchen had knitted. As the woven threads tumbled into my arms from his, a sweet scent drifted upward. I sunk my nose into the threads and breathed deep. It was her; a mixture of Chanel no.20, coffee, and scented lotions. That night, in spite of the 110-degree summer outside, I pulled one of her knitted blankets over me and slept wrapped in her scent. Part of her was still with me.
The next day I draped one of her blankets over a chair in the living room. I draped it in the way she used to lay it across the corner of her living room couch, a carefully orchestrated “accidental look” across the back and arm of the chair. Every evening after work I would sit in the chair, reach over to smell the threads, and remember her.
One evening, about a week later, as I was talking with one of my daughters, I casually reached back to pull the blanket toward my nose. My daughter was still talking, my little Chihuahua was lying near my feet, and my husband was working on the computer. My heart paused while I held the blanket in my hand. Gretchen’s scent had been completely extinguished and absorbed by the scent of our home. She was gone from her threads.
Gretchen had taught me much about life. She had endured the loss of her only son. She knew pain but she knew joy too. She poured herself into others around her, and what she poured was sweet and refreshing. It was after I met her I realized I could be happy in spite of my unanswered prayers and overwhelming desire to have children. It was Gretchen who taught me I had something to pour out for others.
God was teaching me yet again. Gretchen had poured herself into me. I realized the lost scent in the threads were similar to her life being poured out into mine. The knitted blanket was now part of my home with its own blend of spices, soaps, and coffee. I sat in the chair and laced my fingers through the open spaces between the stitches in the blanket. I looked at my daughters and my husband and I pulled the blanket to my nose. I had already been doing what Gretchen had taught me. I had been pouring into these great loves of my life. I was looking at the threads of my life and it was my turn to weave into them what Gretchen had given me and what God had given us both. Love.
Author of The Common Hours