A time when I couldn’t knit.
Simply couldn’t pick up the needles, my favorite coping mechanism, my comfort source, my happy place. It happened.
Of course, under the circumstances, I shouldn’t have been surprised. My entire family’s life was completely upended when my son was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. I was rendered incapable of anything but sitting on a vinyl hospital couch, rocking back and forth, reminding myself to inhale and exhale in a futile attempt to keep the hysteria at bay. I was wrapped in a prayer shawl that I had knitted for my daughter, so I suppose that counts, but for the nine days surrounding that black moment I could barely pick up the yarn and needles that had long been my companions even during the many months of illness that led up to this. Even I knew, somewhere in the fog of motherly panic, that I had hit some sort of new bottom.
Weird thing was, I had to respect it. Even as I knew I’d probably be calmer making stitches--for there were endless hours where all we could do was wait or watch or nurse through that first dark night of chemo--I couldn’t force myself. I kept thinking of the undertow I knew as I child of the beach; you can’t fight it, you have to let it take you out to sea a bit where the force weakens and you can angle your way back to the beach. You end up farther down the beach than you wanted; even that part seemed to fit the circumstances. We are far down a beach we never chose.
A month into our “new normal”--which admittedly hasn’t been normal for quite some time, if you’ve read between the lines of DestiKNITions episodes--I am knitting again. Giving into the powerful urge to finish projects that have laid unfinished for months. Picking up where I left off. My son has excellent prospects; his doctors are science rockstars and Hodgkins Lymphoma is highly curable and highly treatable. I have rediscovered my ability to make jokes--as they were sedating him to put in the PICC line that serves as the port for the lethal but lifesaving chemotherapy, I vowed I wouldn’t knit him “a PICC line cozy” to go over the plastic tubes installed directly into his bloodstream. Whether or not I knit him a few skater-boy beanies to go over his balding head remains to be seen--he is an collector of baseball caps, which should never be attempted with yarn and needles under any circumstances.
I take my days like knitting now--one stitch at a time. I, the consummate planner, get my life in tiny bites instead of visionary sweeps. I am learning new skills much harder than switching from American to Continental. Whole days get “frogged” by things out of my control. And yet, like really good silk-cashmere, I can find tremendous satisfaction out of the garter-stitch of everyday life. The mundane stuff I never gave a thought to before. Our new family catch-phrase has become “any day we’re not in the hospital is a good day.” And it is true. We will never be the same, but in good ways as well as ways we’re not so fond of. I will sob like an idiot when he gets confirmed later in May, and when he graduates 8th grade--a ceremony I’ve always found ludicrous. And when he walks into high school in the fall, a survivor wise beyond his lean years, I will brag until you want to strangle me.
And I will knit new lovely things for my college-bound daughter, because life goes on all around you, even when it stops you in your tracks.
DestiKNITions will not go away, although it may be a bit on the lean side for the next few months. Still, I think I will have loads of new things to discover about knitting (and life) as we press on, so by all means stay tuned!