Friday, December 25, 2020

Blankets and Miracles

Back before this year turned into the crazy year it was, I embarked on a project to collect memories from my siblings and Andrew's siblings to turn into a book of reflections about growing up in our respective households. What memories did we share? How were things different when different "groups" of siblings were growing up (my family has very distinct clusters of children)? What things did we remember wildly differently?

I thought it would be fun.

It was fun. It was also a lot of work and I didn't get the deluge of memories I was hoping for so I'm going to keep hounding people for memories. (I've also been going through some of Karen's papers to transcribe her view of things as found in letters home to her parents as well as in her journals). 

I had hoped to have books ready to distribute to all the siblings by this I said...I don't have the memories I was looking for. Some siblings only answered a few questions. Some siblings didn't answer any. So making a book of memories right now seems impossible. Still, I have compiled the answers that I have, so that's a start. And I'm not afraid to keep asking...and asking...and asking...and asking...

One surprising thing that happened was a rekindling of a relationship with Sarah.

We haven't known how to approach her. How do we cross the great chasm left behind when she rather ruthlessly torpedoed the bridge that was our relationship? How do we find forgiveness? How do we trust again? How much did we even want her to be involved in our lives? We had many, many questions we were grappling with and, honestly, we're not finished grappling. A lot of the answers to our questions are simply, "I don't know."

But I decided that I should probably send Sarah my list of questions as well. So every month (at least hypothetically (I admit I wasn't always timely or consistent about the matter)) after I sent out the list of questions to all our siblings, I would print out the same set of questions to mail to Sarah. 

She has been, without a doubt, my best responder. She has answered every question. I have pages and pages and pages of memories from her. And little details about her life. That's all I offered her about our life—snippets. Mostly I just send her the questions because I don't know how to restart a relationship (and still am not sure I want to try to develop a relationship again (more on that later)). 

A few months ago she added a note asking about each of the children's favourite colours.

I took a long time to respond because I had purposely not been telling her very much about the children. Or any details about our lives, really. I mean, was keeping these letters short and sweet and to the point. 

But eventually I did respond with the children's favourite colours (they don't even remember me asking them...just to make sure nothing had changed since the last time I checked) and was surprised a few months later when a box full of blankets arrived at our house. Sarah had learned to crochet and had crocheted a blanket for each of our children (which is no small feat; this project must have taken her hours).

We had the kids open them tonight (on Christmas Eve) so that they could have matching blankets for their Christmas Eve sleepover (which is going about as well as I expected: Alexander is asleep in my bed (though he fell asleep downstairs) and all the other kids are snoozing away in Rachel and Miriam's bedroom):

I thought about wrapping them, I really did. But also I was so tired of wrapping things, so I didn't (and the kids had enough trouble getting through these sacs, so I think they worked out just fine).

Sarah even crocheted a little ribbon and name tag for each blanket!

The kids were very excited about the blankets and very impressed that they all came in their favourite colour!

Funny story: Zoë spent about five minutes staring at her name tag, trying to figure out what it said. But she was looking at it backwards and could not, for the life of her, figure it out. 

We were like, "It's your initials, Zoë. Z-A-H. But you're looking at it backwards. Turn it around."

She just kept staring at it with great confusion. 

"Turn it around. You're looking at the back."

More confusion.

"Just turn it around, like...flip it over to the other side. It's backwards."

Eventually she figured it out (I think someone took it from her hands and flipped it around for her). We also realized that her initials sound very much like we all want to get pizza—"Gimme a piece of 'za!"

This is the part where I talk more about not knowing how to reforge a relationship (and how I'm not even sure what such a relationship would even entail). But here's what I think:
  • People change all the time (and definitely can change for the better). 
  • It's okay for things to take time (some things take lots of time).
  • As long as she's willing to keep trying, I'm willing to keep trying. 
  • This will probably be awkward and involve a lot of grace on everyone's part.
  • It's okay for things to be awkward. Most things in life are, at least a little, at least in my experience.
Wouldn't it be cool if we all just magically knew how to make things better? I think that would be cool. Unfortunately, I feel like we're mostly left to bumble about in life with huge, unwieldily emotions, making all kinds of mistakes (that we never really intended to make) while hurting people (that we never intended to hurt). And then we have to sort out how to make things better, but we just bumble through that part, too.

So I kind of consider every day a miracle. 

Every day we're all just bumbling through life, trying to do the things that we believe need to be done at any given moment while never being sure if what we're doing is the most important thing, without even being sure that we're doing the thing we're doing correctly. But we just keep getting up and doing it all over again. 

We just keep trying. We're all just allowed to keep trying to do a little better, to be a little better. 

And I think that's pretty miraculous.


  1. Look at me. Sometimes a moments decision can be a disaster. What if you had said no to Andrew...? Or if Andrew didn't want to date your brother too? Or if Mom didn't marry dad? If I didn't have Amy? Or Rosie? I am so grateful for the choices I have made that have led me down a path where I can truly enjoy happiness. I would have never become the strong women I am if it wasn't for my struggles from the time I was born. Some of us are able to get life walking a softer easier path, and some of us have brave the Amazon jungle of life in a loin clothe and some dagger. I love you and I love that you have learned that it's possible to forgive someone like me. Someone who once thought she was beyond forgiveness.

  2. First Nancy's post brought tears to my eyes and then Kelline's comment made the tears start to leak! Beautiful. How wonderful of Sara to give so much time to your children. How wonderful is forgiveness.

  3. "Everything you want in life is on the other side of awkward. ~ anonymous. Beautiful, sweet post. Nice to hear a bit about Sarah.

  4. Cute blankets; what a thoughtful gift!