From the Washington Post:
On a bright and breezy day in June, I walked across the street to collect the mail. Amid the bills, coupon mailers and furniture brochures, I spotted a quilting magazine. I knew it wasn’t for me. I can’t hem a pair of pants. It was for my husband’s first wife, Sherise, a woman who skillfully crafted quilts, blankets and holiday table runners.
Sherise died in a car accident 13 years before that magazine arrived in our mailbox. During our decade-long marriage, Brandon and I have moved so many times even our own mail doesn’t get forwarded. But Sherise’s quilting magazines? They always make their way to our kitchen table with her name affixed to the label.
Even before Brandon and I married, I recognized that honoring Sherise’s memory was a part of appreciating my husband’s capacity to love and grieve. So when our boys came along, we didn’t hide Sherise under a metaphorical quilt. But we were strategic about when and how we told them about her.
Wrapping my children in quilts that had belonged to Sherise’s children wasn’t a conscious decision. When my boys outgrew their baby blankets, we scoured our closets for larger ones. Each kid had their pick of about a half dozen. Now, as my boys snuggle up in her handiwork, I’m struck by how these keepsakes act as a bridge between then and now. I want my boys to understand that just because a person dies doesn’t mean their spirit — the essence of who they are — dies, too.
So, we celebrate Sherise by regularly indulging in her favorite things. We eat Reese’s peanut butter cups on her birthday and buy roses and stargazer lilies on the day she died. We keep a photo of Sherise and her two children in the upstairs hallway and a street sign with “Sherise Dr.” adorns the twins’ bedroom wall as part of their planes, trains and automobiles decor. But the most tangible link to Sherise is our loving beagle, Charlie. Now more white than brown, and with only three legs to hobble around, he was a gift from Brandon to Sherise on her 33rd birthday. Every time I look at him, I think about his two lives — one with Sherise’s family and one with mine.
Read the entire article at the Washington Post.