You might not know this about me, but I'm a quilter. Supposedly, once a quilter, always a quilter. So I can say this about myself even though I haven't visited with my sewing machine in a few years. Each year for the last 11, I've served as faculty (and participant) in the Devorah Quilting Kallah at OSRUI, one of my favorite places. Last year, it fell about 3 weeks after Sammy's relapse, but since camp is only about 35 minutes from the hospital, I was able to go up for a little bit of Shabbat. This year I'm back, even though sewing isn't on my to-do list right now. I'm back amongst a community in retreat, with our own rituals and practices. A group of women who have, in many ways, watched my family grow up.
In 2005, I was pregnant with Sammy at the retreat, and in 2006, he was not only our first baby to attend (I've since brought Yael and Solly, obviously), but also our first male participant. He spent most of the time hanging out on a quilt (not surprising) on the floor near my sewing station and while it was not his first time at camp, it was a milestone nevertheless. It was during this retreat that he learned to roll over, but luckily he didn't get really good at it while up at camp, or it would have made things a tad trickier.
It's not my first time back at camp since Sammy died.
I'm grateful that the first time I came here was with Michael.
This is different. Camp is, of course, different. It was snow-covered and colleague-filled back then.
Today it smells like spring and the sky is blue and the air is very quiet and filled with the purposeful energy of our retreat.
And Sammy is so very present and full in my mind.
As I prepared to come up to camp, I looked through my pictures and was disappointed to see that I didn't have any of Sam at the retreat in 2006. And when I arrived here, one of the other participants handed me an envelope containing these:
I could not have been more grateful to her for these pictures, which I didn't have. With all the photos I have of Sammy, with all the chronicling that I've done and continue to do, it's hard to believe that there are events and occasions that I didn't photograph. But it's true, and I now find myself lamenting these moments. And angry. So angry that I need to care that I don't have a picture of Sammy from a particular date in 2006. So heartbroken that because I will never ever ever take another picture of my sweet boy, I need to hold close every single picture I have, every single moment I remember.
I have resisted telling you how to behave around grieving parents, or giving lists of instructions. So many people have done that with such grace and presence. But the gifts of these photographs, at this place and time, knowing that before she came here, she too thought about my Sammy...oh, it was so heart-filling, so loving, such a blessing. I am so thankful.