Hoping to share the love, joy, and grace I have received in my own life.

A Prayer for Each Stitch

on July 4, 2016

I have been waiting to share this story for a week.  My oldest daughter, Megan, got married  Saturday, July 2nd.  We’ve been planning the wedding for over a year. One of the first things Megan talked about when the planning began was how to have her brother’s presence there with her on the most important day of her life thus far.  Trevor has been physically gone for more than four and a half years now.  We know that he will never fully leave us and that we will see him again.  Of course, that isn’t enough, especially when it comes to planning a day as big as his sister’s wedding.  Megan wanted everyone else to know that our family knows he is with us and to have just a few glimpses of her love for him. The very first idea that Megan wanted to incorporate into the ceremony was a heart cut from one of Trevor’s shirts to be added to her dress.  She had seen examples of this before and some were sewn on the inside of the dress.  The bride knew it was there, but no one else did.  That wasn’t Megan’s plan.  She wanted everyone to know that her brother was with her.  She chose to have the heart stitched on the outside of her beautiful Oleg Cassini gown.  She wanted me to stitch it.  I never told Megan this, but although I wanted to do whatever my little girl wanted for her wedding, I really struggled with this task.  I am still not really sure why.  It is a beautiful way to honor her brother.  My heart just ached with the thought of cutting up one of his shirts and the labor it would take for every single stitch to attach it to the gown.  I know that sewing (at least in this situation) is not exactly labor intensive, but I was concerned with the labor of my heart.

I kept telling Megan I would get it done.  Each week she would ask if I had started and each week I replied with “Not yet, but I will.”  I am not gifted in the craft of sewing.  As the wedding was drawing closer and Megan asked again if I had started Trevor’s heart patch, I responded with my usual, “Not yet” and asked her if she thought it would be better to have my cousin, Carolyn, or friend, Donna, help with the stitching.  I was certain they would make it look much more beautiful than I could.  I didn’t tell Megan that the real issue wasn’t my lack of skill, it was that I didn’t think my heart could handle the work. Megan replied, “No, Mom, I want you to do it.”  I said, “But it’s your wedding gown!  Don’t you want it to look just perfect?”  She responded, “Mom, it’s not perfect that Trevor isn’t here.  It isn’t nice and neat.  It doesn’t have to look perfect.”  Wow.  My amazingly smart daughter is absolutely right.  I never again thought about asking someone else for help with this special project.  I knew I had to do it myself, but I still kept putting it off.

I was reminded of a special circle of women that I have had the privilege of belonging, The Red Tent.  One of the first books the group read after I joined was Anne Lamott’s “Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair.”  I grabbed the book off the shelf and read pieces again.  In the book, Anne says, “But what if the great secret insider-trading truth is that you don’t ever get over the biggest losses in your life?  Is that good news, bad news, or both? … The pain does grow less acute, but the insidious palace lie that we will get over crushing losses means that our emotional GPS can never find true north, as it is based on maps that no longer mention the most important places we have been to.  Pretending that things are nicely boxed up and put away robs us of great riches.”  I was going to stitch that patch myself.

Just six days before the wedding I still hadn’t made the first stitch, but the next night would be my Bible study night with another group of amazing women.  I couldn’t miss my time with them and knew that I had to have that dress done to be able to attend our meeting, so I began cutting hearts from Trevor’s shirt until I had what Megan and I both thought was a usable one (not perfect, not neat and tidy.)  Megan’s dress had been on a dress stand that we had placed in Trevor’s room since the day we picked it up from being altered.  I walked in his room with my needle and thread and the heart cut from Trevor’s shirt, closed the door, and fell to my knees.  The ache in my heart was extraordinary.  I prayed for God to guide my stitches, for me to sew this heart just the way my amazing daughter wanted me to and for Trevor to know just how much I love him.  I put the first stitch in…maybe two or three stitches.  I would become overwhelmed with emotions repeatedly as I stitched that heart on Megan’s beautiful gown.  Each time I felt I needed to stop, I prayed for the strength to keep going.  There are many, many prayers inside each stitch on that little patch.  Each time I fell to my knees, I would add another prayer…for Megan and Austin’s marriage, for Trevor’s friend, Ben, and his willingness to be a part of this special day, for my husband and I and both of our daughters for the pain that we would all have as we took family pictures at the wedding without our son/brother in the frame, for all of the marriages in our family and in Austin’s family… Prayer after prayer, stitch after stitch, the Holy Spirit, the love of my son, and the words of Anne Lamott got me through.

“You have to keep taking the next necessary stitch, and the next one, and the next.  Without stitches, you just have rags.  And we are not rags.”



3 responses to “A Prayer for Each Stitch

  1. cindy mein says:

    It looks beautiful in every way.

  2. Monetta Young says:

    Beautiful story Dana – and such a wonderful way to have Trevor there with all of you!

  3. Marty says:

    You are an amazing woman Dana fro Chana. You touch me with each and every post.

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