Yesterday, April 8, would have been my mother’s 82nd birthday. I tried to use her old sewing machine to sew a face mask so I can comply with the CDC when next I venture out.
Designing the mask was fun. I took an old bra and cut it in half, found a soft fleece zebra print, cut it, and pinned it. Then I turned Mom’s machine on and tried to sew.
It didn’t go so well. Just as quickly as I started sewing, I needed a new bobbin. I grabbed another one and tried to set it up so I could keep working but the bobbin wouldn’t thread right and the needle got stuck. My throat suddenly tightened and I welled up. I fought tears, left the room, bent over with my head in my hands and sobbed.
I cried because the now empty bobbin was a direct connection to Mom. The thread on a bobbin she had wound when alive was used up. Gone. I cried because I couldn’t call her to ask for help. I cried because I had to make a mask in the first place. I cried for every person who has died in this pandemic. Every person suffering with loss. I cried for New York City. For Italy and Spain. For China. For Seattle. For every place affected and every person struggling to breathe. Every person working on the front lines. I cried for my children. The world I had brought them into. I cried for having guilt for wanting to have children in the first place. With my hands covering my eyes, I cried.
Finally I finished crying. I washed my face and I found the sewing machine directions so I could figure out how to thread it. I tried to set everything up again.. and again, I failed.
Again, I thought of Mom and how she had been in the middle of using that other bobbin before it ran out and a wave of fear rushed over me and I took a deep breath to calm myself.
Why am I scared? I wondered. It’s just a sewing machine, I reminded myself.
I tried to label my fear.
I used to think it was floods. Hurricanes or tropical storms like Irene
Now I know I am actually not afraid of storms or raging water, but rather the possibility of drowning.
I am really trying to say I fear being left alone to drown.
It really means I fear death. Not being here with my family anymore. Not being able to hear birds sing or see snowflakes fall or touching velvet or smelling garlic sautéing in a pan or tasting a meal made with said garlic.
But the real truth is, I’m scared of how this virus has blown apart the world and changed all the rules. Making us distance ourselves socially and making us hide behind masks and use screens to connect, which has made us more alone than ever before.
All while I’m waiting for an invisible wave to come so it can crash over me or I can ride it out so I can take another breath.
I got the mask stuck in the machine. Sensing my frustration and overall mood, my husband showed up just in time to cut the fabric free and our beautiful daughter (who turns 15 today) took the mask. She knew I couldn’t complete it on my own so she took it into her bedroom and used my old machine to finish it. In fact, she scrapped my design and made a better one with a notch for my nose.
I guess I don’t have to feel alone with this pain.