"That's it. I quit." Beth turned off the sewing machine and gathered up the pile of squares that had fallen, unsewn, to the floor when the bobbin ran out of thread. She had been fighting with this quilt for hours battling snarled thread, broken needle, and tension problems. Now, just as everything was starting to work properly, and she thought that she was finally accomplishing something, the bobbin had joined the rebellion.
"You can just sit there. I am going for a walk." Talking to her machine probably was a symptom of something but she didn't care. She hooked her little Scottie to his lead and, giving the door a firm slam to show she meant what she said, she strode out into the winter sunshine. It was beautiful outdoors with the temperature low enough to make the snow squeak as she walked. The sun gave an illusion of warmth but she kept her hood pulled up and made sure Tuffy's boots stayed on his feet. The dry cold of Alberta often took newcomers by surprise and, because they didn't immediately feel cold, they left their skin exposed. Dry cold or not, it was still cold and frostbite was still a danger.
As she walked, Beth started to relax and think about the quilt. She realized that one of the reasons she was having problems was that she didn't want to finish it. Unconsciously, she felt that as long as it was undone, her sister would not die. She knew this was a silly as blaming her machine for her problems. Her sister's health didn't depend on the completion of the quilt. However, in her mind, they were related.
She had felt so helpless when Esther had told her the cancer had spread and the doctor had only given her six months more, at best, to live. Her beloved older sister who had always protected her from the neighbourhood bullies, taught her how to use make up and helped her get her first job was dying and there was nothing she could do.
It was Esther who had suggested she make the quilt. "I get so cold and it would be wonderful to have something I could wrap around myself", she said. Beth knew the suggestion was Esther's way of giving her a project to do as she had more than enough blankets to pile on herself if needed. However, the idea had, at first, helped. The choosing of fabric and pattern had made her feel as though she had some control. But, as Esther got weaker, that feeling had left and she began to resent the colourful fabric as though it were mocking her.
She felt a tug on the leash and looked down to see Tuffy was sitting and realized she had walked further than she intended. "I'm sorry, fella. I wasn't paying attention. We'll go back now." As Esther retraced their steps led by her dog's stubby, wagging tail, her thoughts turned again to the quilt. She needed to quit thinking of it as the enemy and start letting it do its job. The purpose of a quilt is to provide comfort and if she let it, this one with its cheerful blue and white stars could do the same. It could provide comfort to her as she spent time working on something, perhaps for the last time, for her sister. It would also provide comfort for Esther as she would know the love and tears that went into each stitch. That was a lot for a bit of fabric and thread to give but Beth knew it was possible. In fact, she now knew what she would name the quilt: Stars of Comfort