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Late on an evening just before Christmas, an email popped into my inbox that read, in part, as follows:

Andsarahtoo, I am Sara R from Daily Kos … and my sister and I have been making a series of quilts… We're working on two -- for Timroff and for Sol Fed Joe -- and the one after that will be for you, if that is okay.  I'll post a message collection diary for your quilt on Monday.

Okay? Okay?? I could hardly wait. Of course, I had read about the community quilts here and there, and seen pictures. And yes, I’m ill—I have been sick since late 2006 with systemic lupus erythematosus. My primary presence here at dKos for the last several months has been as scheduler and lead cheerleader at Chronic Tonic, the support group for people with chronic illness and their caregivers that meets every Thursday night at 9 pm.  But I’d never thought I would wind up on the list to receive one of these beautiful quilts.

My quilt, “Songbirds for Sarah,” arrived on Friday, and I decided I wanted to open it on Saturday morning… Saturday would have been my late grandfather’s birthday, and I always feel his absence on that day, so I wanted the pick-me-up. Before I set off for the day’s events, I sat down with my beloved to open the box and take some pictures.

This is me, holding the quilt box:

withquiltbox

This is me, threatening M with the scissors if he doesn’t just let me open the quilt box:

threatenscissors

The first thing that struck me is that the quilt itself is so beautiful. Sara did a fabulous job choosing the fabrics for the “birds”—the quilt is joyful and peaceful all at once.

The second thing that hit me was the sheer volume of messages.

“Look,” I said to M, “look at all the people who wrote!”

examination

My friends from Chronic Tonic… a lot of my GUSsack friends, many of whom I have sadly neglected since my initial quit-smoking symptoms eased in October or November… my PPST business partners, even my non-Kossack beloved. There were also some people I don’t know very well, but who still cared enough to pop in and leave a message of hope and caring for me.

I can’t tell you what it means to me to have this.

I took a moment to stand back and take it in, and one of my woozles wandered over and checked things out to make sure it met her high standards.

jodiechecks

Jodie the Woozle gave her seal of approval by sneezing on it.

Another shot of the quilt for good measure:

underquilt

I want to say thank you to everyone in the community who participated—my CT friends, my GUSsack friends, my Twitter buddies, and the people I hardly know who cared enough to say something for this piece of art. The love and support I receive from this community—especially those of you who interact with me on Twitter, where I pretty much live. I have good days and bad with my illness, but I don’t know how I would get through any of them without you guys. I need to send a special shout-out to Spedwybabs and MsGrin, who are there for me whenever I need them. Ladies, I couldn’t get through a day without you.

I want to thank Sara and her sister for this incredible ministry they have going—for all the healing goodness they have given to me and to everyone else who has received a quilt. I feel warm and well just looking at it. Sometimes, when you live with a chronic condition, you feel forgotten and unlovable—as if you are missing your own life, as if “normal” people don’t understand and don’t want to, as if friends are an awful lot to ask of a life that’s dealt you these lousy physical cards. I’m going to hang this where it can remind me that I am still functional, still part of a community, and still loved.

I don’t have a way to say how much this means to me… but consider yourselves hugged. The lot of you.

Originally posted to andsarahtoo on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 02:12 PM PST.

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