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The Unfinished Quilt

2019 was an especially difficult year for me. It was just one of those years that seemed like the universe was determined to put a picture of me in the dictionary next to Murphy’s law. You’ve probably heard of Murphy’s Law – "What can go wrong, will go wrong." Ugh, I have so much really hard 'stuff' going on right now that I’m not only ‘on the struggle bus’, I’m driving it! Shoot, at this point, I may have even manufactured the struggle bus.

Sigh…

My grandmother passed away

I lost my dear Grandma Margie in September of 2019 and it has hit me pretty hard. My grandfather passed away when I was only 16, but for some reason losing my grandmother just feels different. It’s not because I loved or needed her more than him. I think it's more because I’m older now and I understand life differently.

Godwinks

Fast forward five months after my grandma’s passing, to a particularly difficult and sad day. I found myself, yet again, trying to get away from my pesky friend Murphy when I got a text from my mom. She had recently traveled to go through my grandma’s belongings and told me about an unfinished quilt my grandma was hand sewing for me.

I immediately felt an overwhelming amount of relief and comfort knowing about this unfinished quilt. It was as if my grandma, herself, was saying to me... you’re okay, Andrea, keep going. This unfinished quilt was a hug from heaven that day, a Godwink as I call them. It was a reminder that the universe isn’t out to get me after all. All of this really hard 'stuff' going on is just a part of my life’s plan.

Life’s unwritten rules

Sometimes I forget life’s unwritten rules and start to feel sorry for myself when things get tough. Like, HELLO! Whoever is watching me from above, can’t you see how much I’m struggling already? I don’t need more really hard 'stuff' right now. Come back another time, please!

Or...why do I have to be going through this? Why do I have to feel this way? Why can’t I accomplish all of my goals yet? Why do I have to be losing my vision already? Why, why, why, poor me... mayday!

How much time do I have with my remaining vision?

Besides all of that questioning, I am also extremely impatient when it comes to accomplishing my hopes and dreams. I admittedly have this horrible habit of trying to control or rush things along in life because... well, I’m losing my vision. And... how much time do I really have to live the life I want to live - with my vision? Everything feels so uncertain sometimes. I'm currently not doing well with uncertainty.

I want to live my best life - while I can still see...but all this really hard ‘stuff’ keeps piling up and putting a huge pause on my hopes and dreams. Can’t life just hurry up? Can’t my dreams come true, like right now, please?

Heavier sigh...

That just isn't the way life works

The universe is screaming to me, and it’s a firm NO. I guess I have a few more lessons to learn before I’m ready to arrive in dreamland. This is the absolute hardest truth I’ve had to learn in my almost 38 years on this planet. As humans, we tend to measure things in time. But, life cannot be timed. I cannot rush my goals, ambitions, or dreams. And I cannot shoo these really hard things away or beg them to JUST STOP.

The struggles I face with my waning vision

Everything happening to me is relevant to who I am now, and to who I am supposed to become. Take all of the struggles I face with my vision, for instance. I hate this stupid disease. Not one person on this planet deserves to lose their vision. Or, what can be even worse, no one should have to know what it feels like to worry about losing their vision and the future they had once planned for themselves along with it.

Macular degeneration has made me a better person

But, if I’m being completely honest about it all, macular degeneration has actually made me a better person. Because of macular degeneration, I am stronger, I am more aware of what is truly important in life, and I have been given a wonderful opportunity to help others. So, I may hate macular degeneration, but I have no choice but to be grateful for it too.

Wow. Even as I type that, it chokes me up. What a crazy, sad, eye-opening, and life-altering, HARD truth.

Heaviest sigh ever...

Important things in life take time

This really special unfinished quilt, for example, has taken a long of time to be completed. Over the years, my grandmother gifted all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren different quilts. Some were hand-sewn, some machine-sewn, and some were rag quilts, but all were simply beautiful and made with so much love and care.

In fact, when I traveled to New York for the funeral last fall, what stood out most to me was that each and every home I visited was adorned with grandma’s "blankets".

My last beautiful, unfinished gift

As my grandma’s health started declining, it wasn’t as easy for her to hand-sew quilts anymore. She was determined to give me one last beautiful gift, but it took her a few years to make it... and even then... it sits unfinished. This unfinished quilt has not yet become what it was meant to be, but it will with the love and care, and when it’s time.

I am that quilt

It’s me, I am that quilt. I have not yet become what I was meant to be, but I will with love and care, and when it’s time. This quilt and the lessons it brings, are such special gifts to me from my sweet grandma in heaven. And now I know for sure that she hasn't left me.

The comfort of community

I knew that I HAD to get this quilt finished, but not by just anyone. I immediately reached out to a few friends to see what the best plan would be. In my small town, I know that so many people would be willing to help. That’s just how things are here. Having a sense of community is so comforting. Isn't that why we are all here on at MacularDegeneration.net?

It's okay to be vulnerable

I know that it’s often hard to reach out when we’re struggling, but these hard things I’m going through in life have also taught me that people want to help. Many of us battling macular degeneration often hesitate to reach out when we need something for fear of being a burden. But, I’m here to tell you it’s okay to be vulnerable. In return, maybe somebody will reach out to us when they need help too. It’s really a beautiful process.

Friendships

After a lot of contemplation, I knew that this quilt needed to be finished by the hands of someone who quilted with as much love and care that my own grandma put into it herself. And, it needed to be finished by someone who had love and care for me.

I reached out to a close friend’s mother for her guidance. This was the very last quilt of many that my grandma worked on. It deserves nothing but the best and I knew who I needed to talk to.

My friend’s mom, Carol, is a quilter herself and is someone who, if finished this quilt in my grandma’s place would not only do it justice... but would stitch a little extra love and support into it for me as well. Carol wouldn’t just be finishing my quilt, she’d be sealing all the love in around the unfinished edges for me.

The honor of being asked to help

Carol not only offered to help but told me that she would be honored to do so. I’m not sure if she’ll ever know just how much that meant to me. But, she knew exactly what I needed in order to be at peace with it all.

Human relationships are really the heart of life. My good friend Jaime also quickly offered up her dad’s help with finishing my quilt. Tom is such a light to everyone who knows him. I quickly told her how unsurprised I was to hear that he had such great sewing skills. He’s just an awesome person, someone you feel really blessed to know. I have no doubt that Tom would have also completed my quilt lovingly and beautifully.

Peanut butter cornflake squares

When I told my friend Jamie that I had found someone else to finish the quilt, she told her dad and his response was so incredibly heartwarming. He said that since he wasn’t able to help finish the quilt for me, he would make me some peanut butter cornflake squares instead. The same peanut butter cornflake squares he gave me the recipe for a few years back... but never taste as good as his!

Be vulnerable because people want to help you

Friends, think about how awesome that sentiment is. Again, people want to help. Be vulnerable! My unfinished quilt has already taught me so much about life. I can’t wait until it’s finished so I can wrap it around me in a big hug. This quilt may not be able to fix my eyes, or shoo away my troubles, but it certainly has helped me change my vision.

The peanut butter cornflake squares were delivered and gobbled up in one minute, flat! I almost gave this article the title of 'The Peanut Butter Cornflake Squares' because they meant so much to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to both Carol and Tom for not only the tangible gifts of the quilt and yummy treats but most especially for your gifts of heart.

Be vulnerable,

Andrea Junge

The finished quilt

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