by Patty Lakinsmith
Memorial Day is a holiday where we remember and honor those who have died in the service of our country. It's a time of reflection, a time when we try to find meaning in brave sacrifice. I also find myself thinking of others who have fought and lost brave battles of a more personal nature.
Handmade items can be a deeply significant way of honoring someone, or letting them know you're thinking of them. About 4 years ago a close friend of mine was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I have a tough time expressing difficult feelings in person, especially when I am afraid. Though it can be nearly impossible for me to speak without breaking down, I can write what I feel (that I'm terrified for her, that I love her, that I wish her courage in her battle), and I can use my hands to convey what's in my heart. Suegene really liked the color blue, so I made these beads for her and wove them into a few special pieces of jewelry for her, and I was very glad to have been able to make the trip to the East Coast to give them to her while she was still alive.
When she passed away not too long after that I made this heart for her young daughter, so she could remember the vibrant soul her mother had. It helped me to think of her as I made it.
Memorial Day also finds me thinking of my father, who left this earth when he was only a few years older than I am now, from an aggressive brain tumor just like my friend, two decades before her. I wish I had been making beads back then.
I'm sure that many of you have used your special talents to reach out to people in this way. I feel blessed to have some way of expressing my feelings when words are so difficult to come by.
The Beads of Courage program is a way of using art to help children facing serious illness. Please visit their blog to see all of the wonderful ways that they are helping kids and their families.