A friend suggested to me that something she did when her brother died from a drug overdose. Someone from their church made them a quilt, and the family all wrote their last words to her brother on this blanket. He was then wrapped in this blanket and buried with it. My friend loved this so much, because she felt like she was sending all that love with her brother. And it gave her a chance to say all the things she never got a chance to say.
My family doesn't really do stuff like that... talk about our feelings, hug, write... so I wasn't sure how the idea would be received. But I felt like I needed to do it, and maybe it would help my sister or one of my cousins, or aunts, I don't know. But if nothing else, I wanted to do it for me. So I start looking for a blanket. A blanket that's going to be burned with my brother in less than a week from the time I make it. It was an impossible task. I knew I wanted it to be something easy to write on. Aside from that, what did it matter? But at the same time what was more important? Finding the perfect blanket became the most important thing. I searched store after store, nothing seemed right. I finally decided I would just make it. I'm a rudimentary sewer at best, so this was no easy task. But I found a nice easy to write on muslin fabric, and a soft warm Rangers fleece. The plan was sew the two together. Simple.
But of course it wasn't. The only sewing machine I had access to was my grandmother's antique singer, literally from the 1920's. And it was on her patio. And it was below freezing temperatures. It's really hard to sew when you can't feel your fingers. But I got the first side done. Second side done. And then it jammed. And jammed. And jammed. My phone rang. It was my husband, checking on me. And I just bawled. I was done. I cried and cried, and sobbed, and let all these feelings I'd be holding inside come pouring out, standing there with my half sewn blanket in Nan's freezing porch. Then my cousin showed up, and saved the day. She unjammed the machine and in no time we had the blanket finished.
I was ironing it, and accidentally burned my arm. The scar is now slowly fading, and is barely visible. And I hate it. I want it to stay there forever. I want this physical reminder of my brother. Not this reminder that time is marching on, and each day I'm further from him. Reminded that some day so many years will have passed it will be hard to remember him at all. I hope that day never comes. I hate that for my kids it's not that far away at all. My baby will never remember him. If I have any future children they'll never even know him. I can't believe I may have children that will live in a world void of JT.
We kept the blanket in a private room the night of the viewing and as family members had time they all went and wrote their final words to Jesse. I went in that room and poured my heart into it. I don't know what I wrote, but I cried, and wrote and cried, and I hoped on hope that somehow he could feel it. If not my words, my tears. My pain. My love.