Sadly, a friend was lost this past week. I knew her from middle school and high school. We were in the marching band together, made it through Project English sitting next to one another. She was quiet at times, shy, but always opinionated at the same time.
We reconnected a few years ago when I joined Facebook. She was no longer shy and I guess I was not either. We had grown up and grown into very different people. She collected guns, jumped from planes with parachutes, had a career as a doctor. I stayed home with my children, stayed on the ground. We had little in common, it would seem.
Three things in my mind forged a deeper connection: our love for animals and humankind, love for the earth, and our love of handmade.
We bonded instantly over the things we each made. She worked in wood, crafting the most gorgeous pens and beer taps. She would post about the joy she felt when heading into her shop when she had a day off, would comment on the music she was listening to as she worked. She also would always comment on things I made. We began trading our goods. A purse and wallet here, a pen there.
We also talked of helping others. She put everyone ahead of herself, everyone. She asked me one day about whether I had any suggestions to help a victim of domestic violence find a new home for her chickens, as this woman’s husband would kill them if she left and it was one factor keeping her there. Strangely, coincidentally, serendipitously, I did! I had been to a local fest in Friendship and met a woman who had a flock of chickens in Uniontown and had her email address. A few emails later and a date was set for a chicken rescue. Sadly, the rescue did not go off as planned. The woman’s husband became suspicious and she had to leave early and he did indeed kill her flock. So cruel and pointless, hurtful and mean.
My friend had her own problems. I wish it were not so, I wish her life had been more calm, peaceful. I wish she received the kindness she bestowed freely on others. She had an accident while skydiving, had marital woes. She left us all wondering about what really happened to her. Her death is currently being investigated, with reports of “unusual circumstances” looming. No word yet on a service, no closure for family and friends, until the truth is found. I can’t help but think she would have wanted that, the truth. Always honest, always seeking knowledge, every day, that was my friend.
What am I left with? She made two pens for me. One was designed for me, made of walnut with silver metal twining and twisting through the body. She used scraps of wood and metals, even used gem dust from a jeweler friend in some designs. Repurposing, using green materials. The second was designed for Nature Boy for a Father’s Day gift. She made a gorgeous thin pen in lighter wood with a Celtic knot design in the body. She tried to explain to me how she managed it; nothing short of amazing, her mind. They are beautiful and I will always remember her and her joy in making when I use or see them.
Handmade to me isn’t just a selling point or a way to pass the time. It wasn’t for her either. It’s taking your vision, your own idea or design or scrap of a thought and working it into life, the present. It is a way to make something from part of you, to give to someone else. It’s a way to incorporate your own vision or feelings, your own energies, into something you can now hold and touch, see in front of you. She and I did that. She understood that. I will miss her and her vision.
I’m surprised by how much the losses I’ve experienced in August are entwined into my workings. Reminders of both my mom and my friend return when I put thread to needle on the playground or foot to pedal in the quiet night. I made things, heartfelt and personal things for both of them. They were certainly not perfect, but to me that was part of the magic of it. My relationships with both of these women were not perfect either. I am left wondering what the universe is echoing or saying to me, what message am I missing or need to consider? If I figure it out, I will certainly take heed.
Blue skies to you always, my friend.