Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Katie's Comforters in CONNECTIONS Magazine

Seattle Children's - Connection Magazine, Winter 2010
Though our guild was not mentioned by name, there is a photo of our quilts with Julie Greves (Hem-Onc ChildLife worker and friend) and me, on page 11. The article, which tells about the importance of the ChildLife program, begins on page 8. It's worth reading - as are the other articles about what is happening at our wonderful hospital!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Katie's Comforters Guild and Hopeful Parents

Once a month, I write an online "column" for a website called Hopeful Parents. It's a wonderful community of people who write about life with children who have "special needs." I write about our situation, which was having a child who has cancer, and is now grief.

As I was writing the piece for this month, I shared what we are doing in Katie's Comforters Guild, so I thought you might like to read the piece. You may also know a family who would benefit from reading the blog, and being part of the Hopeful Parents community. If so, please follow the link above, and/or pass it on to others. Here is what I wrote for this month:

"I’m writing this on an airplane, returning home from celebrating Thanksgiving and two birthdays with my family (our son’s 17th and my mother’s 77th). It was a time of rest, recreation, breaking of bread and reunion with grandparents after their move to follow the sun for the winter months.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for its simplicity…no gifts, no cards, no elaborate preparations or festivities…just the nourishing of the body with good food, and soul with service, sharing and gratitude.

But in grief, it is often difficult to enjoy the holidays, because for all of our gratitude for what IS, we feel acutely what is missing…or, I should say, WHO is missing. Grief can be especially intense during the holidays. For us, these days without Katie will always be inferior to the days when she was with us - the days before her illness and her death. That’s a fact. Yet we are thankful for what remains: people who are dear to us, traditions that are beloved in their familiarity, and the comfort of memories that include Katie.

It’s amazing that a young lady who we knew for only 12 years could so profoundly change us that we will live the rest of our lives missing her. Gregg was 40 when Katie was born, and I was 35. Yet we will always feel that the light in our lives is diminished since her passing. That is the impact of a beautiful, light-filled girl.

In missing Katie, I have been impelled to reach out to others who are suffering by making blankets for other children in the very cancer ward where Katie was treated. This sewing project has now become a guild, which exists to provide a homemade blanket for every single patient who enters the hospital. This guild is groundbreaking, because it is “virtual,” does not require meetings or donations of money, and is not for fundraising. It is part of Katie’s legacy; her quilt - and the comfort she derived from it - inspired me to start sewing for the hospital.

I have been working to let people know about the guild, to rally support, writing and producing promotional materials. This work has reminded me of the enjoyment I had in my former working life. It energizes me. It’s not something I want to do all day, every day, but it gives me joy and a sense of accomplishment, every time I receive a “Yes,” and a “green light” in support of the guild. This is a direct effect of Katie’s life (and her death) on mine.

So this Thanksgiving, I have been particularly grateful for my family, friends and colleagues in this work. I am thankful for those who treated Katie and cared for her and our family when she was sick. And I give thanks to God for giving me an answer to my prayer: “What am I to do now?”

For all Hopeful Parents, I am thankful for you, and for this place where we can share our stories and support. Here is my prayer for all of us, quoted from Wayne Muller’s book, Learning to Pray:
“May all beings be healed.
May all beings be at peace.
May all beings be free from suffering.”

May it be so.

And may you enjoy the coming holidays, filled with love."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kitsap Sun Reports on Katie's Comforters Guild

Here it is...the article in the Kitsap Sun about Katie's Comforters Guild.

Fleece Blankets

If you don't sew, knit or crochet, take heart! There is another way to make blankets: use polar fleece.

Today, I had the pleasure of receiving three beautiful, bright, cozy fleece blankets that were made for Katie's Comforters Guild. The mother of one of David's tennis teammates made these for our guild to donate to the hospital. Here they are, folded in half:

Thank you, Karen T.!

I also had the (rather scary) opportunity to give an interview to a reporter from our local newspaper, the Kitsap Sun. She was very kind and easy to talk to, and she brought a photographer with her. Wouldn't you know, just before they arrived, I knocked my coffee cup over in the kitchen! I was cleaning up the mess when the doorbell rang. That was just the distraction I needed, to keep me from worrying too much about the interview.

We had a nice conversation. The photographer asked me to work on a quilt while he took pictures, so I pinned, sewed and chatted, while showing them how to make a quilt. I'm hoping that he will be extra kind when he decides which photos to use! I know it's not about me; it's about Katie's Comforters, but still, it's nerve-wracking to be photographed!

I took them up to Katie's room, and let them see and handle her quilt, which was the inspiration for this entire project, two years ago. After showing them the brand-new quilts, it was good to be able to show them what a quilt looks like after lots of use. They could feel its softness and see how much she had loved it - it's threadbare and faded, because it was such a constant comfort to her!

Look for the interview at http://www.kitsapsun.com/ tomorrow. Thank you, Marietta and Larry, for making it such a pleasant experience (in spite of my nervousness).