Ann Hood, bereavement, China, death of a child, Facebook, funeral, Grief, John Donne, Quilt, red thread, String theory
Yesterday I wrote that I would try to continue to untangle my thoughts and share a red thread story. I’ve long loved to read John Donne’s meditation from which the title of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is drawn. Donne wrote “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. . . Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
I do think that we are somehow all connected (this, from an introvert who has sometimes wished to be an island), and that sometimes rediscovering those connections brings such comfort. Perhaps the theory really shouldn’t be called six degrees of separation, but six degrees to connection.
I’m not an expert on String Theory either–I was not an apt student of physics though I might like to reconsider–but I like to think about tiny invisible strings that connect us to others. I like Ann Hood’s use of the red thread in her book of the same name. Hood wrote the book after her daughter Grace died and she and her husband adopted a baby girl named Annabelle from China. (She also wrote Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, and she wrote a blurb for Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers).
Here’s my red thread story. After attending the funeral of my husband’s cousin, I was feeling sad for the physical distance between some of the surviving family members. The mother and grandmother of the young man live almost 5000 miles from the young widow and her two children. How could they comfort each other after the loss of the young husband, son and grandson? And there is the “distance” that is not measurable between this time and space and another too.
Then I happened to see a photo of a quilt with a name that was familiar on a friend’s Facebook feed. I followed the link to a site that sells handmade art and vintage items and found that the creator of the quilt had also made a quilt named for the area where I grew up. With the photo of the quilt, he included stories of that place–just from a different time than mine since he is much younger than I.
And did I mention that Zak was also a special friend of my daughter’s in the years they spent in high school together before she died? Now he lives in a city far from the small rural area where he and I grew up. And he had this quilt. Made with beautiful red thread. We had some good conversations about the place where we had experienced some parts of our childhoods. We talked a little about my daughter. I found such comfort in conversation with this person who had known my daughter, who was not afraid to speak her name after all these years.
I mentioned red threads, the connections that may become tangled but can never be broken, from the Chinese story of those invisible red threads that forever connect those persons we are supposed to meet.
This morning I opened my door to see a package on the front porch. The gift of a quilt connected by beautiful red thread.
Here it is. It is called Styers Ferry, named for a road that leads to a long defunct ferry that crossed the river and by the way, provided a connection for my grandfather and grandmother when there was not easy travel by road and they lived on opposite sides of the Yadkin River.
The red threads made visible will provide warmth and comfort and the beauty of stories and memories of the child of my heart that connect us.
Who wants to be an island?
To see more of Zak’s work, click here.
Betsy Anderson said:
Beautiful words, beautiful quilt. All for a beautiful daughter and the red thread connections we all have. Thank you, Kay, for writing this.