Dylan's Quilt

On May 22, 2013 my son, Dylan, died. He would have turned eleven a few days later. When Dylan was five, he had surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor, a medulloblastoma. A year later, the cancer recurred. 

Dylan spent most of his life fighting hard for his life. My husband, my older son and I did everything we could to love, cherish and support Dylan through his battle against a cruel cancer. We did it together as a family and with the support of a large community of people around us.

We were continuously humbled by the friends and strangers who helped take care of us by bringing food, spending time with us, cleaning and doing laundry, praying, running errands, and even donating the blood and platelets from their own bodies.  

Two of the most meaningful gifts that we received were from our church quilting group – a quilt for Dylan and one for his older brother, Chandler.

I’d always had a special connection to quilts. My wonderfully quirky, skilled seamstress grandmother, whose quilting group was central to her life introduced me to them early.  She dragged me along to her group whenever I was visiting Albuquerque from Nashville. All her kids and grandkids got quilts when they got married.  She created each one by hand; no machines - just needle, thread and thimble. After my grandfather’s death, my grandmother made me a different kind of quilt, this one out of my his ties. At the time, I thought that was a little bit strange. Until I lost Dylan. 

Then I understood.

There is something very special about the clothing of someone you love - especially a child’s clothes. So much so that most parents can’t put it into words. Dylan wore basically the same size for the past 6 years because he didn’t grow much due to the radiation.  The clothes he had, worn for years, were jam-packed with all kinds of memories for me.  For some reason, I wasn’t attached to his pants, so they were easy to give away…but his shirts.  Those precious T-shirts that he picked out and wore and loved were impossible to get rid of.  I wanted to keep them, but how?  In a box in the attic where the memories would smolder and disappear?  

Then I thought of the quilting group. 

Maybe they would make a quilt out of Dylan’s awesome (his words) T-shirts. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted to be part of the process. I wanted to help transform those shirts, the thousands of hugs they held, into something our family could touch, something that could hold us since Dylan couldn’t anymore. Working together, over the course of a year, we made the beautiful quilt pictured above. 

It was a powerful gift of love.

Surrounded by Love is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, EIN number 81-0851412.