Blissfully Domestic Giving
One of the great sources of bliss in this world is giving, and as a stay-at-home mom, I can often give more “time and talent” than I can give funds. Anyone can make a positive difference in the world by helping others, even though they may have little money or time. I have found enormous comfort in sharing time and talent with others in my darkest days, after the death of our 12 year-old daughter, Katie.
Katie was diagnosed with a rare form of adrenal cancer in October, 2006. She endured five rounds of chemotherapy treatment, an 18-hour surgery (to remove the tumor) and many difficult weeks of recovery. Her courage, humor and strength were (and are) a huge inspiration to me.
To our horror, Katie’s cancer recurred just a few months after she completed her treatment, and we had to face the fact that she was going to die. After caring for her at home, with the help of hospice, we were by Katie’s side when she passed away, in August of 2007. It is terribly painful to have to learn to live without her. I started writing as a way of coping with this personal and spiritual crisis.
One of the activities that comforts me during the most painful times is sewing simple quilts for the cancer ward where Katie was treated. I’ve been doing it for nearly two years, and we have just turned the “Katie’s Quilters” project into the “Katie’s Comforters Guild” at Seattle Children’s Hospital. My goal is to have a handmade blanket waiting for every child who is admitted to that hospital. Our hope that our guild will continue to grow until the need for blankets is met; we are just getting started!
Why did we decide to make blankets, instead of raising money to buy blankets?
A store-bought blanket is a nice gift. But the gift of a homemade blanket, with all of the care, love and intention that goes into it, can have a profoundly comforting effect on a person who is in the hospital.
Many patients don’t know they are going to be checking in to stay, when they arrive at the hospital. Some come in through the Emergency Department; some are airlifted to the hospital. Some simply come in for tests, but a problem is discovered, and they are unable to go home to get items that are comforting and familiar to them. This is what happened to Katie. By grace, she had thought to bring her favorite quilt with her (one that I had made) on that day. It was months before she was allowed to go home again, and that quilt was a reminder of the security and love that she enjoyed in her home life. That blanket was with her during her weeks of in-patient chemotherapy; in Ronald McDonald House, in the months we lived there; it was with her in the intensive care unit, and on the surgery ward, as she grew stronger and prepared to go home again. It was also on her bed when she passed away, and now it is in my bedroom, as a token of love and comfort.
Katie used her quilt as:
- A tent, to hide under, and sometimes to feign sleep with
- A mask, to block smells that bothered her
- A lap blanket, to warm her legs when in the car or a wheelchair
- A wrap, like a pashmina, to keep her upper body warm
- A blinder, to avoid sights she disliked (such as hypodermic needles);
- A bathrobe, over her pajamas
- A distraction, studying its pattern (the state flowers of the U.S.A.), instead of watching procedures
- A comforter
I’m sure there are lots more possible uses. Kids are creative!
In these difficult economic times, many of us cannot simply write a check for a charity that we love and want to support. Among crafters; however, I have come to learn that we nearly always have a “stash,” some materials stored away that we haven’t had a chance to turn into a gift or a project.
Are you a crafter? Do you sew, knit, crochet or work with fleece? If you have a “stash” of materials, and would like to share it with sick children, I invite you to join us (or to start a project of your own, in your part of the world). Our guild’s website is www.katiescomfortersguild.blogspot.com
If you would like to learn more about the hospital, click on this link to Seattle Children’s Hospital’s website.
The joy of sharing your time and talent, and knowing the comfort that it will bring to others, is a great source of bliss. I hope you will find that this is true in your own life.
Note: Children’s Hospital can only accept brand-new blankets; no pre-owned or used blankets can be given, due to issues of infection-control.