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She sat Indian-style in the middle of the bed, the soft wool flowing through her hands. "Indian-style" -- no, that wasn't the PC thing to call it. What did her kids call it? Oh yes, "criss-cross, applesauce". She sat, vaguely wondering how long she would last till her back hurt too much to sit this way. As she sat, she caressed the wool flowing through her fingers to the needles, knitting, knitting.

She loved the feel of the wool. Sometimes fatter, sometimes thinner, it gave her hands a special peace. It comforted her. As she knit mindlessly, one row knit, the next row purl, her sorrow flowed with the wool through the needles, looping itself into a shape. She didn't consider what shape it made; she just kept knitting. As her grief poured in variegated yellow, pink, orange, purple, and grey through her hands, love flowed with it.

She knit for the baby she would never hold again. She knit for her son, dead before he could come home. She knit for never being able to hold him to her breast. She knit for the tiny plastic box of ashes shut away in a niche next to his grandpa's. She knit for the memories -- the ones she cherished and the ones she would never get to have. She knit. She knit.

Her husband peeked in at her. He saw the wool moving through her hands, the shape growing from her needles. He saw the tears flowing as silently as the wool, the tears she didn't know she cried, and left the room without a word, knowing she needed to knit her pain.

As the wool flowed, the ball rolled off the bed and into the corner of the room. She didn't notice; she just knit. She didn't know when she would stop. Maybe she would never stop. Maybe she would knit forever. She didn't need to think about what she was doing as her grief ran shapelessly from her heart through the needles to be formed; she knit. Some small corner of her mind wondered what she was making, but as the wool flowed, she just knit.

Near midnight, she noticed that her hands were still. The ball of yarn had run out, and her hands held a simple scarf several feet long. Simple in style, yes. Simple at heart, no. Slowly, she turned it in her hands, reveling in its woolen softness and marveling at how it had grown from her needles without her knowledge. As she hugged the scarf, rubbing her face in it, winding its length around her, she realized in one thought that her back hurt and that her husband lay silently on the bed, his hand on her thigh. When had he come in? How long had he waited? She turned to him. He sat up and took her in his arms. They held each other as they sobbed wordlessly over their lost son. As she cried, she felt the scarf on her face and knew without thinking how much she would cherish this imperfect scarf which held her grief, this scarf whose wool would forever comfort her.



After a nearly thirty-year hiatus, Erica picked up her needles in December 2004 as a way to channel her grief over her son Paul’s death. In the next eight months, she made approximately 80 baby hats, three baby blankets, a small afghan, 15 scarves, two kids’ hats, two women’s ponchos, 12 felted bags, and assorted items for her daughters’ Barbies and baby dolls (plus a few crocheted items). She now considers herself an addict and is contemplating selling her finished objects to support her habit.

Erica lives and blogs with her husband, daughters, and pit bull in South San Francisco.