About a month ago, one of my group exercise students, Karen, approached me about doing a project for her sister. Her sister will be turning 50 the day after tomorrow, exactly 2 days after her son, Zack, would have turned 16. She should have been worrying about his first time alone behind the wheel, but instead, she will be throwing another huge party to celebrate his life without him. When Zack was just 6 years old, he died tragically when a soccer goal tipped over on him. Every year since that day, his family (and by this I mean his HUGE extended family) has thrown a party for Zack, inviting underprivileged children and having a blast in his honor. Pretty cool, huh?!
Anyway, she wanted to do something really special for her sister--and they have done many really meaningful things over the years, like making a book with his artwork, bracelets with beads he picked out, necklaces with z on them, quilts from his clothes--you name it, they have given it. This family is incredibly thoughtful and diligent about keeping Zack a part of the family. What neat ways they have come up with to make Zack known to his younger siblings and cousins who were born after his death! So, she brought me this book of Zack's artwork, some legos that used to be his and shared several stories of him and his family. Karen told me that she would like to incorporate a lego, an angel's wing and a key (to signify that he would have been getting his license this year). We decided to use his favorite colors--orange and red--on this piece.
I can't even tell you how many times I read this book, full of the lessons Zack taught during his short time here. My girls often would sit down and read it, too. I can't tell you how many times I cried--for his family, for the loss of dreams, for all the hurt in this world. No one in our house says Zack, who? anymore. It is as if we got to know him--as much as is possible, anyway.
I have to say that often I am stumped by special orders for awhile. Especially the ones that are outside the box. I think about them A LOT, and worry that I won't be able to do them justice! This one had me especially worried--I mean first of all, it was a gift--sometimes it is hard to get a sense of the recipient's style from the person ordering. Number two, his mom has dabbled in jewelry--eek! She might have higher expectations for the jewelry she wears. Thirdly, she has received so many meaningful gifts, how can I make this one more special for her 50th? Fourth of all, I have never used a lego in jewelry--how will I do that?! And, lastly, a key and angels wing and a chunky orange pendant all in one necklace--each one could be a focal on it's own. How can I do all of this and make it pretty and wearable? I prayed more than once for the inspiration to make it all work. I did not want to fail on this project--it had become too important to me!
|Two way toggle, long version|
|Two way toggle, short version|
I got a chance to meet Karen's mom on one visit as well. She, too, was so open and excited to share about Zack. On this visit, they brought me a bracelet that had broken. This bracelet had beads that were the same kinds that Zack had picked out with his mom at a bead show right before he died. His mom had recently picked up the beading hobby, so she bought more of his picks and beaded a bracelet for each of the women in their extended family. One special order became two. Karen's mom wanted me to make a second piece from her. They didn't need to match, but should both have a part of Zack.
|Back-side of the bracelet|
|Bracelet, the view when worn|