This summer, while I was away in Grand Haven with my mom and my kids, I was doing a bit of writing and a lot of thinking about what is important to me. I am involved in a truly remarkable course, with some wonderful classmates, lead by the incomparable Sarah J Bray. (It’s called Tour de Bliss, and if you don’t see a lot here on my blog, it’s because I’m actually working instead of just writing about working, thanks to Sarah.)
Sarah asked a question in an audio note to the effect of: what was something that inspired delight? I don’t remember the exact comment, but I remember my reaction…She made a remark about how we don’t just look at our hands and delight in having hands every day… when I realized that I do! I am delighted and appreciative of my hands every single day. I love that I can make anything I invent in my head. I am truly delighted in the dexterity and skill I have in my hands (especially compared to the rest of my clumsy, slightly awkward self.) I Make Beautiful Things using these hands of mine. Child-sized hands they may be, but they are strong.
A month or so ago, I was given an industrial sewing machine by some friends of mine. Coincidentally, another dear friend rented a studio in Ferndale (one of my favorite towns!) and said I could keep this new-to-me machine there. I will also be teaching classes at this studio in Ferndale starting in the new year, so I am grateful to have an on-site machine.
All of this was falling into place in the last couple of weeks. I felt charmed. My sweet Peter cleaned the machine table and motor which had been sitting in a shop, dusty and greasy for years, and helped me move it to Ferndale. On Tuesday of last week I went to set up my new machine. I lifted the sewing head back so I could begin threading the bobbin when it fell closed onto my hand. This resulted in my having amputated the top of my middle finger on my dominant hand.
Janna arrived just in time to ride in the ambulance with me, and called J to come meet us there. After a harrowing 7 hours in a local emergency room and multiple phone calls in search of a reputable hand surgeon I was released home. The doctors couldn’t reattach the piece I broke from my finger, even though the paramedics rescued it from the oil pan of the sewing machine. J took me over to the studio to pick up my car keys, where we found that the building super had already cleaned up the blood from the room and my machine. I am so grateful to have friends, loved ones, and strangers alike, all looking out for me.
I couldn’t sleep the first couple nights after the accident. Every time I closed my eyes, I pictured the moment I pulled my hand away from the table in horror. Day or night, the gruesome images reappeared, every single time I closed my eyes.
By Thursday I had had enough. I decided I wasn’t willing to let fear control any part of me, even subconsciously, and went to face my demon. I drove over to the studio and sat in front of the machine. I talked to it. I told it we had to be friends and that it needed to know that I am the boss of it, not the other way around.
I expected Janna later in the afternoon, so I put together a table while I waited for her. When she arrived I asked her to help steady the machine open so I could finish threading it – right where I left off 2 days earlier. We closed it together, gently, and I sewed some test scraps to test it out.
I went back today and sewed some more. I will not let this or anything keep me from a life of hand-making. I simply refuse. I discovered that I am not afraid – of anything.