Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Kiss for Harry

For reasons which will become obvious this post has taken me a very long time to write. It isn't all about the quilt, and it isn't all pretty, but for the sake of honesty with you, my readers, I feel bound to share it. 

After a year of sorting, tossing, culling and downsizing I finally moved into my new home in early August. Grandbaby #3 was due in just eight weeks and I still hadn't made the quilt (gulp!).

It was time to employ the KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Silly.

Simple doesn't have to mean boring, and with this in mind I decided on a cheery checkerboard pattern where the feature fabrics would have centre stage.

Six inch squares of clear, bright, saturated colours in fun patterns would alternate with squares of pure white homespun.  

The first step was to lay out all the squares, to make sure I had the right balance of colours and tones. Looks OK, doesn't it?

Hmmm, maybe not. Can you spot the problem?

Here's a tip. Take a photo of your fabrics at this stage, then edit your digital photo into black and white.

Once I did this it was screamingly obvious that the Kaffe pencils and the Winnie the Pooh square in the middle were the darkest in the whole quilt, and much too close together.

A quick switcheroo resulted in a more balanced arrangement.

This was confirmed for me when I created a black and white version of the second digital photo I took.

Of course this isn't the only way to do this test. Here are some more -

    1. Purchase a Ruby Beholder, a red filter for viewing your fabrics.
    2. Save money and use red cellophane for an improvised viewer.
    3. Use a door peep hole lens.
    4. Simply view your quilt through the LCD screen at the back of your digital camera.
    5. {The simplest method of all} Screw up your eyes and squint as you look at your layout.

I wanted the machine quilting to be as uncomplicated as the rest of the quilt, so straight lines using a walking foot seemed the line of least resistance. Personally I've never been a great fan of stitching in the ditch, mostly because I can never seem to control my machine needle's wandering, and the slightest deviation from that seam is glaringly obvious.

So I set the guide arm on my walking foot so I could stitch about an inch each side of the seams (sorry, no action photos taken).

For some time I've been wanting to try Linda's method of applying quilt bindings, so I decided now was the time.

I confess I didn't find it at all easy, even though her photos and instructions are excellent. The imperfect results are entirely due to user error!

This is my neatest corner, the only one I dare share. My report card would read 'room for improvement' ;-)

To hold the folded bindings in place I used my Clover Wonder Clips with their little teeth that hang on tight, without sliding off (like the hair slides I used to use) or wriggling lose and pricking me (like the pins I know some folk use).

At the time I had no idea if the quilt's recipient would be a little girl or boy, so I chose that aqua starry backing to appeal to either. 

And so it was finished! 

Remember this post (scroll down to the end) I wrote back in September about the delicious sense of anticipation I was feeling?

Just a couple of weeks later Sarah arrived from the USA and we were all so excited at being together to welcome a new little person into our family a year (to the month) after the heartbreak of losing Boak.

This bub felt to me like a beautiful gift from God, a confirmation that life would go on in new and exciting ways.

But just hours after Lachy took this photo the unthinkable happened.

As he began his journey into the world our precious Harry's little heart stopped beating and we were once again plunged into the all too familiar pain of paralysing, confusing, devastating, unbelievable grief.

Last year, while there was the agony of losing a husband (or father), we had celebrated a life lived to the fullest, a life of achievements, if cut far too short, and I'd found a measure of comfort in my special memories.

This time it was starkly, cruelly different for me, and indeed for all of us, for while we held our tiny Harry tight for a short time, and tried to create enough memories to last our lifetime, we grieved for a little boy we would never know. So much potential never realised.

As his heartbroken parents expressed it so succinctly, he would never grow old.

And this was far, far harder.

Of course I've asked "Why, God?" many times. But I don't expect an answer this side of heaven.

I only know that he continues to gently walk with me every day and constantly reminds me of the bigger picture. He's with me in the pain, holding me close as I held Harry, and reminding me in so many little ways that while there will always be pain in this world there's also so much joy and beauty and love.

Sometimes I embrace this thought warmly and easily, but there are days when I scramble to cling on by my very fingertips.

A Kiss for Harry will always remind me of our little man, and I like to imagine God who created him, gently cradling him in his arms and covering him with kisses, just as we did.


  1. Oh Di.....I am so sorry. My heart goes out to you. In his short time with you all young Harry was so much loved, you must all be devastated.

  2. So so very sorry that your family have had to endure such a heartache....my love to your all.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss, and am praying that God will give your family peace and comfort.

  4. I am so sorry. Praying for peace and comfort for your family.

  5. Very brave of you to write this beautiful story Di, I know it will help the healing process and you have a loving memory to hold on to.

  6. words can't express - how sad, I have tears just thinking of the pain your family is going through.

  7. Oh, I am so sorry for your heartbreak and loss. I'll be praying for you.

  8. No words are heartfelt enough to convey appropriate sympathies for your families loss and I am too far away (and a stranger) for a hug. I for one was looking forward to 2014 as a fresh start. I hope that the new year brings you and your family new hope, more love and plenty of joy.

  9. So sorry Di. Praying for you all. Heaven will be sweet! Love from us here. xx

  10. So sorry that you and your family lost precious Harry. Thank you for sharing through your grief, and telling his story.

  11. Oh, Di, what a beautiful post. I can imagine that it was very difficult for you to write. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your son and his wife.

  12. I am so sorry. You and your family are in my prayers. I believe

  13. Oh Di, how very very sad for all of you. Life can be so unfair at times and to do this to you once and then followed so closely with wee Harry is just not right. I know you are thankful for your darling husband being able to take care of Harry. By knowing that these two precious men in your lives are being together would be a type of peace for you I hope. Thank you for sharing. Sending huge hugs from here for you and all of your family.

  14. Oh my goodness, I don't know you personally, but I was so touched by the posts that you wrote about Boak and started following your blog then. Now, I am so heartbroken to read about the journey to heaven for little Harry; while there is some joy in that thought, I'm sure there is also the pain of a journey that feels it happened way too soon. I'm praying that even on the days when you feel like you're barely clinging on by your fingertips that you feel God's firm grip still.

  15. Oh Di, my heart cries out to you..and I can relate. My son and daughter in law lost their first son in exactly the same heartbreaking manner in October 2004. In a similar parallel, Daughter in law Sarah lost her own life in October 2011 5 weeks after the birth of their 4th child,,the 3rd after Logan, when she collapsed with a massive heart attack from post partum cardiomyopathy and could not be revived
    Peter now struggles on as a widowed supporting Dad..things are difficult, but he is doing a wonderful job and has 3 happy healthy children. It is impossible for us to fathom why these things happen, we can just hang on with faith to believe it will all work out. My Love in friendship to you

  16. I am so very sorry for you and your family...having to endure the unendurable! Prayers for all of you for healing, peace and grace from God, as only He knows how to do.

  17. Oh your poor family....so much sadness. But having the faith in our Lord does make give some peace even if we can't see the reason.

  18. Di there are no words...but my heart hurts with yours and I pray God will continue to give you peace through your pain. blessings, marlene

  19. Our sweet Zachary (first grandchild) fought in an incubator through two surgeries before the Lord took has little hand and led him Home at 9 weeks of age. It's not something people want to talk about, Di...but I found the most difficult thing afterwards was as a parent to my daughter, Zachary's mother, and not being able to 'make it better'. She has had two more little boys since, but still struggles with God taking Zac. xxx


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