Sitting in the armory, I’m watching items pass through an auction. I have an addiction for old furniture. I love dressers, chairs or anything else made of wood.  One by one, priceless treasures that hold so many memories are held up and taken away by strangers. These items have witnessed life and, at one point, were wanted by someone for practical use.

A box is introduced full of… no way.  It can’t be.  I sneak in behind another older lady and take a look.  It is, in fact, a box of quilt tops.  Not quilts from the Big Box store.  You can tell by holding the cloth in your hands that these are pieced together, heavy, handstitched quilts. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m a terrible quilter. I get distracted easily so finishing a quilt, for me, is nearly impossible.  I want to.  I start out with the best of intentions and have every bit of love I can muster invested in them.  Yes, “them.” As in…plural…as in…more than 5.  If I stitched them all together, I’d have one full quilt.  Don’t judge me.  That’s a whole other post for another day.

I bid first on the quilts and, to my surprise, no one else is even interested.  They’re mine.  There are several beginnings in the box, but there is ONE heavy, beautiful quilt completed.  I bring it home, wash it gently and dry it.  I put it on the bed and run my hands along the pieces.  Someone, somewhere took so much time to stitch each and every inch.  The uneven stitch lengths and, sometimes, crooked lines dictate a story that I’ll never know.  It’s like watching TV with the sound turned off. I can see it, but I have no idea what the yellow fabric in between the squares meant to whomever took the time to place them in line.

My LEO calls the quilt “the death blanket.” He refuses to sleep under it because he thinks that whomever made it is probably dead, and he wants no part of it being cursed.  It isn’t cursed. It’s mine.  It may not have been made for me but, if I ever finish a quilt, I would be comforted in knowing that it somehow landed in the hands of someone who would wonder about me and why it was made, or for whom it was made and why.  I smile thinking she, whomever she is, feels the same way.  

Well, the quilt has started to wear.  Suddenly it isn’t in the best shape and there are holes.  There are pieces missing and it needs to be stitched in so many places.  I’ve considered taking it somewhere for restoration and I’ve thought about doing it myself…though, we all know, it would only get half done (quit it. I can hear you rolling your eyes).  

Then I wonder… If I was to stitch the quilt myself, would it be the same quilt? I’ve been thinking a lot about the Ship of Theseus Paradox.  It says (via Wikipedia), 

“The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.”

                                                                                                          —Plutarch, Theseus
If I replaced a piece of that quilt, made my own stitches or added in filler fabric- would it still be the same quilt?  I don’t know.  I guess, technically, not.  Would it hold the same memories? Yes… but then my little brain went a little deeper. 
I have a wonderful friend named Jesse (ok, not really “Jesse”… but you know).  A beautiful friend for whom I feel the utmost respect and love dearly.  Jesse has been through the wringer in so many ways, between divorce and dealing with things the average person never encounters.  Piece by piece, Jesse has changed and, what was once a close companionship, has become a distant memory.  Every few weeks, Jesse resurfaces via text or Facebook and tells me how much they appreciate my always being there.  I go out of my way to see that this friend never feels alone but, in the process, I’m pushed away and completely cut out within a few days. I’ve bore this cycle repeatedly through the whole process and have never taken it personally. I still don’t take it personally, but it has affected me personally.  Like my quilt, this person has holes that I will never be able to fill or stitch.  I’ve found myself often being heartbroken because I want so badly to see them whole.  Like the ship of Theseus, however, they’ll never be the same person again and it’s taken me a long time to come to that realization.  The memories I was holding onto, and the hopes that Jesse and I would someday be like we were, are quickly fading.  Piece by piece, Jesse has become a different person.  What can I do?  Let go.  That’s all I can do.  For so long I’ve felt guilty like, if I let go, what happens to Jesse? What does letting go mean?  Well, for one thing, it means I stop getting torn up every time Jesse suddenly goes MIA.  I’ve also come to a couple of realizations.  1) Jesse doesn’t really care what happens to me when not around and 2) Jesse takes care of Jesse when I’m not around.  When I am around- it’s weird, and I wish I wasn’t. I feel like a stranger next to someone I used to be able to talk to about anything.
As hard as it is, I’ve made the decision to stop torturing myself and feeling responsible. It’s taken a lot to realize that Jesse can’t, a year from now, say that I didn’t try.  God knows I’ve tried.  As one of my favorite co-workers says, “Here’s what’s in my circle of control, and here’s what’s out of my circle of control.  I’m not going to stress over the latter because it is such a blip on the radar of life.”  Easier said than done, really.  It physically hurts to think that Jesse is dealing with things internally with which I can’t help. If you read my last post, you know I’m a fixer.  I want to defend everyone and have a hand in everything they need help with.  I’m learning lately that there are times I just can’t do it. 
Thinking about all this makes me want to crawl under that quilt, but I can’t be the only one who has dealt with it.


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