About a year ago, Abby Glassenberg wrote an article for Generation Q magazine about my quilt "Self-Portrait, Year 2: Beneath the Surface." She recently re-published the article on her blog, which makes it accessible to people who didn't see it in the magazine. Thanks Abby! Here's the link. There are already some thoughtful comments after the body of her post.
One bit of further explanation about the last paragraph of the article, which has me posing the question "Am I a mother with [my son] gone?" It was actually online commenters who raised the question, and Abby wanted to know my response. The text on the Self-Portrait quilt states, "I AM A WOMAN WHOSE CHILD IS DEAD." Among the many online comments I received about the quilt was one thread that said something like: "Why did you say 'woman' instead of 'mother'? You're still a mother!" I think people felt I was being too hard on myself--that I shouldn't deprive myself of this cherished title, and that I would somehow always be a mother. But the fact is this: I was once a mother, a role that was very important to me. But with my only child dead, I am no longer a mother. When deciding on the text of the quilt, I didn't consciously make a choice between "woman" and "mother"; it simply didn't occur to me to write the word "mother." Being a mother has certainly had a lasting impact on me, and I have continued to use what I learned in my eighteen years as a mother--with my students, when I was still teaching; with other children I interact with. But that's very different from being a mother. I am grateful I had that opportunity in my life, I am grateful that Jeremy was the child in my life, and, now that loss has replaced motherhood as a central experience, I do my best to continue a life that sustains caring relationships with others, even while they are very different from that between a mother and her child.