Little Boxes, Filled with … what?

A couple of months ago, my husband R. was diagnosed with Metastatic Carcinoma of Unknown Primary. At first we are numb. Walking around staring at each other, trying not to get teary-eyed, but doing it anyway. Now, a few weeks down the road on this new journey, we’ve moved into another phase. Not acceptance. It’s something else for me. R. has an “attitude of gratitude”, and I’m into some other twilight zone of feeling I have not quite owned up to. I’m dealing with this new circumstance as I deal with most others.

I’m making things, keeping my hands moving. Yes, I’m escaping in a sense. Sometimes escape and denial is necessary to get you through. I’m making tiny houses. What is a house but a place where a soul resides. Little doorways. When I’m stitching, I do not have to think so much about the fact that my husband will gradually disappear from this life. But all these thoughts jump back into my stitches. I pray for him to not have pain. I try not to think about how lonely I will be in the future in this house.
I try not to think a whole lot about what I’m doing and my mind can wander off down the endless avenues of my brain. Every stitch a prayer. Going down one way I think of the beauty of the fall season here in New Orleans, which is the cooler temps. Then my thoughts take off another way and wonder about that hurricane that is forming and heading our way.
But with each stitch, each pull of this deep purple thread tightening that little doorway, I am thinking of what these cancer cells are doing to my husband day by day. And that I can do nothing to stop them, nothing to stitch those cancer cells up in a little box and burn them – and my scissors cannot cut off their threads of multiplication. It’s going to be a long journey.  Over time, about twenty minutes into my little house, my brain settles into the rhythm of my stitching, and I am once again in a meditation zone. I’m not in charge. And every stitch is a prayer.

7 responses to “Little Boxes, Filled with … what?

  1. Emma, I am so very sorry to hear about your husband’s illness. Your post made me remember how sewing projects have gotten me through so many hard times in life. There is something about the rhythm of it that is very soothing and calming. You and your husband are in my thoughts and prayers.


  2. Greta, thank you. Your prayers are much appreciated and welcomed. Times like this I miss my Memphis friends.


  3. Love ya’ll. Many, many prayers


  4. Oh Emma, thank goodness for stitching. xo


  5. Beautifully written Emma. You are handling this in the best way you know how and that is all you can do for now. You know our prayers are with you and Robert as you go through this painful journey. Love you.


  6. Dorothy Triplett

    Emma – I’ve been thinking of you and praying for you both – you said “every stich a prayer” – when I used to knit for my kids/grandkids, I would tell them “every stitch is an ‘I love you'” – and, after all, isn’t that what prayer is? So I’m praying an “I love you both” regularly. I will sit in the blue chair you left for me on my front porch when you moved to Memphis and say, “I love you” and continue to pray. Much, much love!


    • Thank you Dorothy, oh the famous Dorothy of U2 fame! Jill and Paul Buckley stayed with us when they came down for the concert and told us about your bigger than life photo on the largest video screen ever!!! Blessings on that blue chair ….


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