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KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday and Wednesday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic.  There are two parts to each diary.  First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered.
Virtualsara

The quilt above is a virtual patchwork of many of the quilts made by Sara and Ann in the past. If you don't see your quilt in there, it's merely an oversight on my part or I could not find a pic.

Follow below the squiggle for messages.

Sara and Ann,

for all you have done,
for all you do
for all you have yet to do

we thank you

Your friends at Daily Kos

Sara, it was such a surprise and an honor to have been the first in a long line of persons to whom you and Ann have ministered with your quilts. When you also did one for Austex54 as my caretaker we were overwhelmed. Both are still with us in our new home here in the Ozarks - save for journeys which still occur to the hospital, which I won't enter without mine.

May Love, Honor and Respect always be there for you and Ann. Othniel and Austex54

You said my quilt was to get me back in my bed. Well, it has done that. I still cry when I read the messages, since it is hard to believe people think such lovely things about me. That's the tears part. The laughter part is from the fabrics - some are smiles, and some even make me laugh. The screen saver on my phone is my dog on my quilt on my bed. Many, many thanks. ramara
It was unforgettable. First came the quilt diary and all the loving expressions of support from fellow Kossacks and then the arrival of Sara and Ann's quilt. Both lifted me up at THE lowest possible point in my life. Thank you Sara, Ann, and my dear, dear Daily Kos friends. Larry Bailey
Thank you both for the wonderful gift that keeps me and the pooties warm and comfortable every night. This community is a very special place and you have loads to do with making it so.  BFSkinner
I lived so much of my life aware of the notion - we live alone. When in a coma, I experienced time - and a greatly magnified sense not only of separation but of rejection, of inefficacy, of being undeserving of good company.

I did not wake up to the quilt; it came later. After teary eyes from leaned-over loved ones, held hands and my own astonishment that I had been out of it for quite some time.... doubly so for it being nothing so long as it felt when under sedation. For it felt like years, not weeks.

So, a few days later, as I am slowly clawing my way up to full consciousness, it arrives - this quilt, stitched together - I gather in quite a hurry - with a host of messages on it from a very large sampling of the Kossacks I knew. More would send messages in other ways - emails, texts, phone calls - a group sent some flowers.

Over a year later I am back to thinking - we live alone. I have lost friends to death and to the death of affection since then. It was the same before but mourning comes more quickly and I fear I am easier with it now. I look at my hands and let them fall back on a quilt. And I squeeze the fabric tightly and wonder - did I come back wrong somehow? Or changed, in some way that no longer fits into the world?

No, I just feel the joy and pain - all of it - more acutely. For I am aware that both can be taken suddenly, like breath before a dive under deep still water - and just as suddenly sweet delicious life can return. But one day the deep will claim us.

Before then, take hold of the quilt of your friends. Don't disparage a single square. Don't find reason to think - oh, this one I can dismiss. It's not pretty or clever or useful enough.

Do this at your peril. For a quilt is a social thing - just like your life.

You cannot lose just one patch of it, without risking all.

I had to go through this in silence and solitude. This course runs even now.

But for a while, I surfaced from an abyss - and your hands were there to raise me back into the living. I don't plan on making such a need happen twice - the ride's not worth the ticket - but it meant the world to feel not just alive and human but part of a larger world.

And to be able to weep tears of gratitude that the world welcomed me back. cskendrick

When I am not feeling well my quilt brings me comfort. When I am lonely it keeps me company. And when I feel sad it brings me joy. It also reminds me that there are angels in this world. Not a day goes by that I don't whisper a little thank you to Sara and Ann for sending me something that touches my heart. I love my quilt. Thank you... DavidW
IN MEMORIUM

Her quilt was exmearden's greatest treasure after family and friends and pets. She took it everywhere, to hospitals, ICU's, chemo suites, on airplanes, and to Netroots Nation. When she passed away last November, her quilt was her final shroud.

Per Nurse Kelley: The saddest quilt story was stumpy's: He died before he got it, and he needed it worse than anyone, because stumpy had no family or nearby friends and he was gravely ill in a nursing home. His friend and fellow Kossack webgenie requested the quilt, Sara and Ann made the quilt, and Otteray Scribe was going to deliver it to him. When stumpy died before delivery could be made, Otteray Scribe made sure this honorable veteran was buried properly at Mountain Home National Cemetery. The photo of stumpy's quilt-covered grave (which always brings me to tears) can also be found in Otteray Scribe's memorial diary.

exmearden - RIP

stumpy - RIP

Ben Masel - RIP

nudger - RIP

bleeding heart's niece - RIP

Dr. William F. Harrison - RIP

Theodore Olbermann - RIP

grndrush - RIP

Michelle Caudle - RIP

It is not an exaggeration to say that Sara's quilts save lives.  Literally.

By now, I imagine everyone knows about both our current living situation and my health problems, so there's no point talking about them in detail here.  Because of the financial and family stresses over the past year, which have exceeded anything I've ever experienced (and that's saying a lot), and because I no longer have access to the meds that kept the worst of my symptoms under at least minimal control, this year has been a killer in more ways than one.  I went through a period of months earlier this year where I got virtually no REM sleep whatsoever.  And for an autoimmune patient, REM is, quite literally, everything.  And then Sara's quilt arrived.  And when I slept with it directly over me, I began to dream again.  For months, the only REM sleep I got was under that quilt.  Nothing else worked.  And had I not gotten that little bit of sleep through the summer months, I would not be here today.

Because what I haven't really told anyone, except obliquely, is that I spent most of this year battling the urge to end it all.  Literally.  Oh, I tried; too many times.  But I could never seem to make it work.  Stupid obstacles that prevented me from carrying it out, every single time.  But I know two things:  1) On a purely physical level, had I not been able to begin sleeping again, I would have made it work, eventually.  2)  All these months when everything has seemed utterly hopeless, I think the one thing that has kept me going is that quilt:  the magic woven into its very threads by Sara and Ann; the messages on it from people who gave enough of a damn to write them when it felt like no one cared if I lived or died; and the blessing my "cousin" (Ojibwa) bestowed upon it from within our tradition, that keeps my soul connected even when mind and body are not.  We rebuilt our lodge, and the quilt is the blanket I wear into it.  Wings sleeps on top of it when he needs a respite.  Even the dogs sneak up onto it and burrow into its magic whenever they can.

Sara:  I owe you my life.  I love you more than words can ever express. ~ Aji

I have contributed to several Community Quilts and thought I understood what they signified to the recipients (as well as to the contributors). But I had no idea, really, until I received one myself. Starting with the first call for messages, I felt embraced and uplifted by the whole community. All the messages of kindness and concern, expressed on my behalf--and always encouraged and appreciated so kindly by Sara!--moved me deeply from the first.

But once the marvelous quilt arrived at my house, perfectly timed as it happened, I was awed, humbled, and grateful anew. It is astonishingly beautiful, so artfully composed and so lovingly transcribed. The photographs cannot do it justice. My husband and I sleep under it every night, and I nap under it on my back porch. I have shown it to everyone important to me with whom I'm in contact, and I take it with me to challenging places. Why, the other day it cured my younger daughter's stomach ache, just like that.

Sara, you and Ann work magic on my behalf every day. I am more thankful than I can possibly express that you have done this profound service not only for me, but for dozens of Kossacks on our collective behalf. Bless you both. peregrine kate

I put my quilt on the sofa back, again and again, but my dog pulls it down and sleeps on it. I read all the messages once a month at least, so much outpouring of love and caring. When Sara warned me about the call for messages, she also warned me to have tissues nearby. I can't remember now whether my husband died before or after I received the quilt...    Hugs to Sara and Ann.  riverlover
This past February, when I was watching over Kitsap River while she recovered from her kidney transplant, the one thing that kept me going day after day, night after night was the wonderful quilt I slept under. The messages it bears gave me strength when I was weary, brought warmth and color to a sterile hospital room, and let me sleep in the sure knowledge that I was not the only one who cared -- that someone, many someones cared for me as much as I care for Kitsap River. Charles CurtisStanley
I spent months sitting, waiting for a shoulder to heal that refused to cooperate. The temptation to feel sorry for myself was kept at bay by the power of your quilt. I wasn't wrapped in scraps of fabric - I was wrapped in the love of every signature and every stitch sewn by your loving hands. You, Sara, are our better selves. Miss Blue
As a child I slept wrapped in the love of my Grandmother's quilts. When I married, she sent me a Wedding Ring quilt. When my children were born they too slept with and were comforted by her quilts. The blood clot I am recovering from nearly cost me my leg. The pain has been relentless. I have felt deeply threatened and afraid. The thought of receiving a quilt from Sara, Ann, and the dkos community returns me to the feelings of love and security I treasured as a child. And as my family has read the messages, they feel comfort as well. princesspat
The quilt I got while in the hospital was better than any medicine or treatment. The quilt was a reminder that words of promise, stitched together over time, will always change the course of history. Not only that, but the idea of quilting served a poignant purpose, to remind us that, just like the panels on a quilt we are all stitched together as a community, in love and fellowship towards justice in our lifetime. Lt. Dan Choi
Love is healing. That is the message you sent me with the quilt. And if I wanted something in my life, it was love, unity, harmony and beauty. I felt it lacking sometimes and it hurt, so I came to ask you for a soul-healing quilt. The quilt is the answer and the image to my yearnings. It represents people of all walks of life, coming together, sitting around a fire and eating together. They sit on rocks of an island, born out of water and fire, with the beauty and diversity of nature around them, offering them all they need. It’s the secret garden of my dreams. Each morning I wake up in my secret garden. This means the world and my life to me. Thank You, Sara. Mimi
SPECIAL COMMENT

These are deeply moving and supportive symbols of communal support. You always know the back-up is there within the Daily Kos environment, but since we all live in a virtual space, the tangibility of the quilts is even more special that it would be in ordinary circumstances - and so are the people who make them. Keith Olbermann

[h/t to Markos for getting this one!]

Although my cat has usurped ownership of my quilt, it is still a great comfort to me when I am not feeling well. Love, rserven
My quilt showed up the day after I got out of a four-day-long emergency hospital stay where Charles thought he was going to lose me. It kept me going through dialysis, which was one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through, especially hemodialysis where nobody could find my access with a needle despite hours of repeated trying. It was the most important thing I packed on my way to get a kidney transplant, and was with me in the hospital as I recovered, and, despite my nurses' warnings, never once got anything on it. It covered me as I got acquainted with Bimaaji the kidney from the moment I arrived back from surgery. In a very real and tangible way, it represents all of my beloved friends from Daily Kos who kept the faith that all would be well, and was instrumental in keeping me going when I needed it most. Kitsap River
My quilt has been not only a lovely gift from DKos but also opened the doorway to a friendship between Sara and I (and Ann). After experiencing first hand how powerful the energy in these quilts is I had these talented and caring sisters make me one as a baby gift. I ordered another one from their Etsy site for a friend and they customized it a bit.

I've bought several pootie pads for personal use and gifts and am now trying to get some local boutique pet stores to carry them. I want to help their business flourish in any way I can.

I've had the honor and pleasure of talking to them both on the phone several times. The quilt, emails, diaries, and phone calls make me feel so taken care of in such a tangible way. The magic that flows through their fingers and spirits affects everything they do and has inspired me to be a better person. ZenTrainer

Sara and Ann, my quilt has wrapped me in the warmth of the Daily Kos community in a time of awful sadness. It's breathtaking to learn that so much love is out there. You are the focal point for it, like a prism that picks a rainbow out of ordinary sunlight and spreads it across the room. You paint that rainbow with the work of your hands and your minds, and its beauty drives back some of the cold darkness. Thank you. Love, belinda ridgewood
There are none so kind and caring as those who use their talents and their hearts to help a painful heart be soothed; there are none so kind and caring as sara r and ann. labwitchy
I am a committed anthropomorphist - I name my cars, plants, computers - and I attribute to them all of the characteristics of human behavior.  But never, ever, has an inantimate object had such a powerful impact on me as Sara R & Ann's quilt.  Just to look at it imparts a sense of warmth, of love, of caring; and as I wrapped myself in it through six rounds of chemotherapy, it was like being enrobed in tranquility.  May the Powers bless them both, the more so because they have never asked for the recognition they richly deserve.  luvsathoroughbred
When I was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer I was pretty down, and came to Dkos to vent a little in a diary. One rec list later, Sara R was explaining that my name had come up as a suggestion to receive a community quilt. I was flabbergasted and at first declined because I thought I didn't feel sick enough. But then I reconsidered, because chemo can make you very ill, which it did, and it was very comforting to have the quilt during those times. Luckily I'm in remission now, but I still love the quilt and the good warm feelings from everyone. Lorikeet

I would like to say that in addition to the loving words that are expressed on the quilt by friends and family, I feel the love and caring that went into my quilt by the artists who made it! One of my goals is to meet Sara and her sister. Love, Bustergirl
                                              More than a Quilt

The impact of Sara's quilts became apparent to me before I received one for my dying niece. Indeed, I never expected to need or receive one since there are so many worthy people. But what Sara's quilts did was more than weave beautiful cloth together with beautiful and loving stitches. It was more than transcribing beautiful personal messages and stitching them, too, into the beauty and unity of one large loving message. It was more than selecting "just the right quilt" when there was no time, as was the case with my niece.

The most special thing about Sara's quilts was the unity they created, the love they culled from this motley, off-beat, funny, cantankerous, passionate wild herd of cats on this site. The quilts were a rallying cry: someone needs help. And the quilts gave us a concrete way of doing something. The quilts joined us together in common purpose: to provide love and support for someone in pain.

My niece's quilt given by this community and stitched by Sara and her sister no longer has a frail body underneath it. That body has returned to the stars. But the quilt still stands tall, hanging from a special hanger built by my niece's father. It is mounted by the bed where Elaine spent many of her final hours. The bright crosses still bring back the same sacred imagery to her parents that it did when the quilt first arrived.

Elaine felt loved, perhaps for the only time in her life. What she received was a quilt, but it was more than a quilt. It was love.

Thank you, Sara, thank you, Ann. bleeding heart


My quilt sustains me. It provides whatever I need at any given time -€“ warmth while I sleep, comfort when I'm ill or in pain, eye candy, soft arms when nightmares come, Sara's love. When sleep eludes me my fingers reach for the knots so lovingly tied by Ann, and out I go. There are dozens of fabric squares, each selected by Sara, and every one of them has special meaning to me. How did she know me so well?! These quilts are magical, providing strong Kossack medicine, and Sara and Ann are the genies who make it all happen. I love them both. Nurse Kelley
Gaelic:   Dh'aithnichinn air do sheirc do thabhartas.

English:  I would know your gift by your graciousness. Otteray Scribe

The Community Quilt Project is one of the best projects at Daily Kos.  It's always an honor to post messages for other kossacks, but it's so different when you're the recipient to go public with something I had not had time to really accept myself.  

Nurse Kelley helped me see the flip side: When we care for others, we give them a gift, but we also need to be willing to accept the gift of caring when offered to us. The Community Quilt Project helped me to feel what I knew and saw before, the circle of caring, support, and community at DK.  

From the moment I felt that dreadful lump, the circle has spun outward from my innermost core of family and friends to community members.  So many friends want to make sure I have everything I need to fight breast cancer, including love, compassion and really funny jokes. My sister gabriella re-arranges her work schedule to be with me at doctor appointments, and takes hold of me when I stumble dazed and overwhelmed.  Meteor Blades, not a lover of phone chats, always gives me the gift of hours of caring phone conversation with advice, comfort, support and good old-fashioned laughter.  Boatsie and Oke offer to interrupt their own lives to come to my home to take care of me. Aji gives me prayers, good vibes, laughter, and great information about traditional medicine trials. Avila is ready to jump on the next plane whenever I need her, including dealing with any uncooperative doctors. Nurse Kelley keeps a watchful, loving eye on me, holding my hand in spirit for months now, and advising me. rb137, noweasels and soothsayer99 check on me all the time to make sure I am ok, amazingly remembering key dates for medical tests, always letting me know I am loved. RadioGirl arranged prayer flags in the Buddha Tree in her yard, fluttering in the breezes for me while Bill McKibben prays for me daily and keeps my spirits up.

I was a little nervous when Sara posted a quilt diary for me, but concerns quickly evaporated as comments were posted with a circle of caring growing larger. Our DK community surrounded me with healing warmth and love.  The messages were so heart-felt that I could FEEL each person's support as I read their words, which I will forever treasure with honor and gratitude.

Sara's quilts are a piece of artwork, sewn with love. Her quilts embody our circle of giving, and there is nothing more beautiful or magical. Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse

The last line of a prayer by Saint Brigid of Ireland reads: “Should I suffer distress, that He would bestow a good blessing upon me.”

That ”good blessing” for me was your quilt.

I have written a few comments that speak to the magic, the positive energy, the love and the comfort found throughout your quilts, but I had no concept of how true that was, until I received one of my own.

I believe that as you craft each community quilt, your positive and spiritual nature and the loving and powerful feelings behind each message flows from your hands and heart into the quilt. The finishing touch comes from a blessing by Ojibwa, who adds his own unequalled energy and protection.

To me the four corners of the blanket symbolically represent the directions, North South East and West as well as the four elements of Earth Wind Fire and Water. This means to me, that the blessings, power and protection within the quilt accompany me everywhere I travel and in everything I encounter. It is my shield when needed and it is a source of positive energy that I can release and share along my path.

Our community is incredibly blessed, Sara and Ann, because you heeded the whisper of spirit and began this calling – a calling to heal in a most unique way.

Thank you Sara and Ann for that “good blessing” of your quilt in my life.

Love JaxDem


When I first read the words saying that I had been chosen for a quilt, I was stunned. Me? I tend to have pretty low self esteem and it seemed so unlikely. But, as it was obviously true, I must say that the feeling I got was of acceptance, love, and a great deal of appreciation. Although I haven't met her, Sarah R must be an amazing person, merging her love of fiber arts and people into a way to give to those who need the most support. I am simply overwhelmed. And, now in retrospect, I feel an added responsibility to give back to the community through showing acceptance, knowledge, and understanding for my fellow Kossacks, whether it is in the quilt diaries, in the Grieving Room, or basically everywhere Kossacks meet. Thank you, one and all. alliedoc
My quilt is my friend and reminds of me of friends I've never seen, and the thanks I owe them.  Sara & Ann, you are angels.    escapee
I love Sara and Ann. It's just that simple.  When I attended NN07 in Chicago, I signed a quilt block at their booth.  The following year in Austin, I did again.  Then, exme got sick and Sara offered a quilt for this lovely creature who wrote what's inscribed in the most secret parts of my heart and pierced my soul with her words.  I donated monetarily to this offering of love, caring, and compassion, and then again with a message from my soul to hers.  I've been a 'Sara and Ann' devotee since.  I say less and less these days, but I'm here, quietly watching from the wings, and I rarely, if ever, miss one of Sara's threads.

They're angels on earth, the two of them.  Believe that.  And I say this as a fairly staunch and jaded cynic and misanthrope-in-part, much love.  Much, much love.   Dreaming of Better Days

A thing, of cloth and thread,that warms the body against the cold winter night.
A symbol, created of so many hearts, that protects the heart against the disease that threatens it.
The caring and love in the work and so many messages, that warm the soul in that dark night of despair.
Sara and Ann, and so many wonderful kossacks, may you receive all the blessings you so generously bestowed on me. DaNang65
I was a stranger here, until you reached
Across a gulf so wide the country fell
Between, the silent void your welcome breached
With kindness such as made my own heart swell,
And one gift more beside, a patchwork quilt
Inscribed with messages from friends I’d yet
To meet, unfolding flowers of hope. You built
A mansion there, and left me in your debt.
How then to answer kindness of this sort?
Unworthily I call upon what art
Is mine to body forth in lines however short
The thanks abiding in a grateful heart.
To Ann and Sara, and all who wished me well,
I thank you more than words hold power to tell. DrLori
My quilt has been a huge comfort to me. I've cried in it, slept in it, cuddled up with Violet and Teh Pooties in it, read books in it, watched favorite movies wrapped up in it. I just love it. I will treasure my community quilt for the rest of my life. Love you, Noor B
Sara, I want you to know how very much I treasure the quilt you made for me. I received it roughly at the same time my father passed away, and found all the messages it contained so comforting that I ended up hanging it above my bed, where it still hangs today. Not a day goes by that I don't look up and read a message or two and think about my Pop.

I went through a very dark period after my Dad died and, then, found myself overwhelmed by my new teaching job and my own health issues. In many ways, I'm only now truly coming out of this bleak spot -- and the quilt you created has taken on an even deeper symbolic role for me. When I first received that quilt, I didn't think my heart could heal. Today, I can still catch myself tearing up at a memory of the old man but, mostly, I read the quilt, I feel the love and concern it embodies, and I am somehow better able to remember the good times and all the kindnesses my Dad showed everyone around him.

Your quilt was one of the only bright spots of a dark, dark time. I thank you, all those who included messages, and your team of crafty elves from the bottom of my heart! Melody Townsel

Everything they said! CJ
And then there was the Daily Kos Community Quilt. Commissioned by Markos Moulitsas to hang in the new Daily Kos offices, he was moved to tears allergies when he saw photos of the just-completed treasure:

It's hard to be an ornery asshole when I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes. But if anyone asks (including YOU), it's just my allergies. They've been acting up.

Seriously, this means the world to me. There's so much wonderful in this diary that I just want to burst. There's the amazing work Sara and her sister Ann do, bringing so much joy and comfort to so many of our (extended) family in need. There's the names of so many wonderful people here -- both those writing messages, and the recipients of these lovely quilts. I adore the symbolism of having Ben's blue fabric at the center of the quilt. I hope I don't walk around with a tear in my eye every time I see it hanging in the office.

This will go up in the reception area of our office, so everyone coming in the office gets to see it. I can't wait to receive it and hang it! kos

Over 60 completed and still counting!

Peace

CJ

 

Originally posted to KosAbility on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 02:00 PM PST.

Also republished by J Town, Community Quilt Project, Street Prophets , and DKOMA.

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