Monday, March 10, 2008

Apart at the seams

If I make it through my new knitting project, which is dubious, it will be a simple wrap made up of enough yarn to cover 8 football fields. That's a lot of yarn. I bought it in chunks that looked very non-threatening, flimsy even. I liked the color. It felt soft. Then the girl (who insisted on referring to the yarn as "yummy") asked me how much I needed, and after a quick calculation, the answer 792 yards of yarn. Yikes. As I mentioned in a previous post, this project is off to a rocky start -- it's not hard but the stitch pattern results in some loopy holes, such that if I screw up I can't clearly see how to fix it. Four different times now I have started, gotten a little more than halfway through a football field, and I had to start over. Each time I pulled out the intriciate little series of loops and gentle circles that was the hope of my wrap and stretched it into a long single strand again, I thought wow, that's a lot of yarn -- weird that it takes so much to make something this small. I have sworn that if I screw up again, I'll swallow my pride and take it back to Ms. Yummy to show me how to fix it without ripping it all apart.

I talked with a woman today who has lots of problems of her own, and she was exhausted from having spent the weekend with a friend who was actively dying -- he was expected to "let go" at any moment today, leaving behind a wife and a huge group of friends to take care of her. She then talked about another friend who was losing his house after a refinance gone bad, another victim of the housing collapse. She was hanging in okay, clearly spirtually tired, but okay. In that same conversation, I had to tell her that her insurance was drying up soon and that even though she would need a lot more therapy to be able to return to work, it wasn't going to be paid for as it had been. She cried -- not out of frustration or anger but out simply being overwhelmed. "This is all just too much" she said, and it was clear that it was.

I've been overwhelmed by the hearing of someone else's unravelling -- he is in his early 40s, has a PhD, a new baby, a good job, a wife he loves and is losing his thinking. He's currently reading at a 3rd grade level, forgets that he's not supposed to go to work so a series of visitors comes over in the morning to sit with him (he thinks it's rude to leave the house when there is company), and can't remember how to brush his teeth. Three different doctors think three different things are to blame, but the bottom line is they haven't been able to slow it, much less stop it.

Weird that so many things -- joys, worries, terrors, loves, sabbaths, assignments, errands, images -- get knitted up into the simple fabric of our lives, and even weirder that we mostly keep it all together. The danger lies in complicated patterns where we can't see how to fix the problem. I'm so thankful that nothing scary is trying to pull my yarn off the needles right now, but I'm even more thankful that there are people in my life who I could take my mistakes to for help in repairing them without ripping everything apart.

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