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!