Monday, February 14, 2011

a heart quilt for sarah

twenty one years ago today, my baby girl lay fighting for her life in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit following her open heart surgery. she wasn't supposed to still be here. if her recovery had gone as planned, we would be back on the regular peds floor and she would be wearing the little red dress i had made for her first valentine's day. instead, she was still connected to a ventilator, tubes coming from every tiny limb, she even had an iv line coming from the top of her almost bald head. each tube was connected to a pump, controlling the flow of various medications trying to bring her out of the crisis she was facing. we had been told the outcome looked grim.

as i sat in the corner chair in the parent lounge, waiting for the next hour when we could visit again, i felt a great need to do something. with my hands. the idle time was unbearable. my mind often wanted to veer off course. to imagine the worse. i needed an outlet. i needed to create. so i started a quilt. a teeny, tiny, little quilt. with hearts. not just for valentine's day...

but also as a reminder of the valiant fight sarah was demonstrating. i didn't have much time, or much fabric. but then my six month old daughter was a mere eighteen inches long and was loosing weight faster than she was gaining it.

i needle turn appliqued four small hearts onto a square of muslin. i embroidered four hearts with red floss. and then i chain stitched her name in the center. during my next visit to her bedside, i tenderly placed the quilt upon her bruised and limp body, being careful to not disturb any tubes or wires. soon after, the machine monitoring her heart rate beeped. the nurse told me that meant she was happy. and that meant for a moment, i was happy. that tiny little quilt meant something to my girl. and that gave me a new sense of hope. sarah's quilt continued to give her comfort for the many months of her recovery.

for a few years i carried it with me when i would talk to groups about having a medically fragile child. i took it to a few needle and quilt guilds in the early 90's, then i tucked it away for safe keeping. until last year december. the fat quarter shop was doing a giveaway for l'amour by sandy gervais. they asked for a letter to be written to santa to explain why you would like to win, so i did. unbeknown to me, one of sarah's nurses from so many years before had been reading her blog. she left a comment asking if we still had the quilt. so i went searching.

february 2011. in the front window of our new quilt store, i slowly and delicately laid that teeny tiny quilt on the table. not that i needed to be careful of the tubes and wires this time, rather i wanted to savor in the beauty of where we are. today. alive. thankful. and so very blessed by a grand master plan so full of details. and tiny stitches. in both sarah's heart and in her quilt.


Anonymous said...

So beautiful. I have no words really. Just wanted to let you know I find your strength extraordinary and your teachings divine. Anna Weaver.

Chef Mama Lori said...

I just loved reading this! What a gift your precious daughter is. Thank you for sharing from YOUR heart!

Angie said...

It's been a while since I've read .. .or commented. But, this took me back nearly 7 years, as we, too waited for Caroline to recover from her heart surgery. WE spent nearly 3 weeks in the intensive care unit - and when we finally left, she had a pacemaker as a "souvenir."

I wasn't quilting back then, but I was crocheting. I made lots of blankets during that time -- and nearly all of them were donated to charity. We had been so touched by the people in the ICU at Vanderbilt.

I still get a lump in my throat, when I read about other families who have gone through similar situations.

Our girls are certainly something special!!!