Sunday, November 20, 2005

Thinking of Shirley

Whem I got back from mailing Shirley's portrait yesterday, there was a message on my machine from David. His voice sounded downcast, and I thought he might be calling to tell me Shirley had died. It turned out to be true. It happened yesterday afternoon, probably right at the moment I was struggling to wrap the painting at the UPS drop at Johnson's hardware. I am now so sorry I didn't get it in the mail earlier so that she could have seen it. I thought she had more time, as did David and Thom. They planned on having Thanksgiving dinner with her. Now they will be going to the restaurant where the three of them had spent the holiday in the past, in a gesture of remembrance.

I feel let down somehow, almost as if I had just sent the portrait sooner I would have been there to help Shirley go. It is an irrational thought and I don't know where it came from. I do think that it's good that she didn't have to wait any longer, nor did those around her. Once it was certain that she had just a few weeks or so it seems almost cruel to drag it out. She did a good thing. It must be hard for everyone, especially the person dying, to just wait for it to happen. How long should somebody have to live without hope, with the certain knowledge that death will come at any moment? Especially since Shirley was religious and presumably believed in an afterlife, she must have wanted to get it over with.

With these thoughts rolling around in the back of my mind, I sewed all day today. After making the curtains for the dining room, I felt like getting back to making something to wear. I had big plans, and bought two pieces of beautiful fabric to pair up for one long-sleeved top. Things seemed to be going very well. I felt creative since I was inventing something different from the pattern. My neck facing was perfect, the best I've ever done. I "stitched in the ditch" like a pro and topstitched around the neck opening so that it looked sore-bought. The two pieces of fabric looked great together, the bobbin thread didn't break, the machine behaved. Then as I was coming toward the end, I realized the front and back didn't match correctly. Somehow things had gotten out of align. The details were wonderful but the garment itself couldn't be put together. As I tried to remedy the situation, which I really knew was impossible, I put the thing on and saw that it was emormous. I had used the pattern pieces labeled "large," feeling brave that I didn't choose "extra-large." So, I thought, I can probably start all over again with the same pieces, cutting them down using the smaller version of the pattern. I went to the wastebasket to retrieve the tissue pattern pieces I had thrown away, but they were soaked with the remains of the chicken I had cooked and deboned earlier. Now it looks like I will have a few very pretty pillows.

The day was wasted, but I felt like it was just. It was the way a day of mourning should be.