January 6, 2011

My New Year’s Resolution

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Friendships, Good people, Health, Hobbies, Quilting, Women tagged , , , , , at 8:02 am by Liliana

The healing quilt

The healing quilt

I was never one for New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like to make a promise (to myself or to others) that I pretty much know that I won’t keep.

But this year, I have made a resolution. I want to finish a large, king size quilt that I started for my friend Nancy three years ago.

When Nancy’s husband Ken died, Nancy didn’t want to part with his clothes. I volunteered to make a quilt out of Ken’s shirts, ties and pants. To make the quilt representative of their life together, I took a few of Nancy’s colorful blouses and added them to the mix.

I made a simple design, something that would work for a disparate collection of colors, tones and materials. Then I bought creamy and burgundy floral fabrics to tie everything together. And when I started quilting, I chose different colors of thread – neutral beige, deep burgundy, emerald green and burnt orange.

This quilt has been an evolutionary enterprise. I started with a vague concept in mind, but the project has evolved into something with a life of its own.

I have done all the sewing and quilting by hand. From the beginning I felt, but didn’t understand clearly, that the idea was not to finish the quilt quickly, but to go through the process of  slow, meditative healing. I couldn’t rush this project.

Ken and I were suffering from cancer at the same time. He had incurable esophageal cancer, I was sick with breast cancer. The last time we saw each other was at our children’s piano recital. He was at the end of his treatments, I was in the middle of mine. We made a sad sight – both of us gray and weary, with no hair and our eyes hollow from nausea and fear.

We said nothing but looked at each other with compassion and understanding. We embraced and cried.

So, when I work on this quilt for Ken and Nancy, every stitch is a gift of tenderness and love. And gratitude that they have given me the opportunity to spend hours slowly pulling silky thread through fabrics that they have marked with their presence. They have given me a chance to mend and heal.

This winter I feel that the time has come to complete the quilt. It feels right. Every evening I work on it for hours.

When the longer days of spring arrive, I will be ready to hand it over to Nancy for safekeeping.

January 29, 2010

Cup of tea

Posted in Family, Health, Serbia, Traditions tagged , at 8:25 am by Liliana

Have a cup of tea!

Have a cup of tea!

Drinking tea has always been associated with relaxation and shared hospitality. In my family,  it is also associated with healing and good health.

In the last few years, different studies around the world have proven that tea ranks higher in antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables. It is believed that tea can heal and prevent many ailments. For example, it can prevent blood clots and lower blood pressure, inhibit the formation of plaque in artery walls, and reduce the risk of heart attack.

For me, tea is precious and delicious in itself. It reminds me of my childhood summers when my grandmother and I went picking armloads of chamomile, berries and various herbs. We would hang them in bunches from the ceiling of my grandparent’s farmhouse attic, where they would dry and be ready when the cold weather arrived. My grandmother loved brewing tea, and it was her answer to every ailment – actual, possible, or imagined.

I taught my own children to love tea and they have a similar view of  its healing abilities that my grandmother had. Whatever hurts, tea will help it feel better. For me, holding a hot cup of steaming, golden tea on a Saturday afternoon is the height of luxury. It takes me back to the best days of summer, and to those fields, fragrant with chamomile.