When the crochet won’t work…

   Normally I crochet under stress, in fact it’s my preferred coping mechanism. This weekend I made sure I brought my crochet with me to get through the devastating moments and hours and days of watching my husband and his family suffer through the aggressive onset of cancer that claimed my father-in-law this  Monday morning.

  Normally, I can just sit and let my hands work. I couldn’t. Normally, I would make something to ease the pain and stress. I couldn’t.  It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been unable to crochet due to physical and emotional exhaustion.

Not that I didn’t try, mind you. Sure, I pulled out a hook, some yarn, any old yarn and made a ring, and started some lace (my stress go to stitching habit), but my hands wouldn’t work. It was like they were too sad to function. Even the hook acted strangely in my hands, like it was a stranger not a well worn, used friend.

I carried my yarn bag with me everywhere I went, kind of like Linus and his blankie. Watching my husband and his family love and tend to their father, watching my mother in law try to cope with such devastating and horrific circumstances. I just couldn’t do it. I think beyond being unable to help them, or offer them more than a hug, or a back rub, or a listening ear, even a cup of tea, but nothing really helps; what made me feel most helpless in those moments was being bereft of my crochet. It was the signal that something awful was happening when my brain just didn’t want to go there.

Watching the man who accepted me and my children from the day I met him, go from being one of the most vital, active, intelligent and gifted human beings I’ve had the pleasure to know, to a helpless man given hours when we thought we had years, was heart wrenching. The man who once told me how glad he was that his son finally had someone to love him, and be with him; that he had been worried his bachelor son would have no one to care for him when he was without his father. He said that to me ten years ago, I never forgot it. After all, isn’t it what every daughter in law craves? Needs? To hear that her husband’s family is so glad to have her?  On my part, I was able to tell him throughout the decade I have known him, how much I loved and cared for him as my father in law. No regrets on that one.

To have the wind taken out of your crochet sails, really does signify something. I’m still musing on what it means. Emotional and physical exhaustion for certain come into play. Worry, anxiety and fear certainly don’t help the creative process.

But then we were watching a very creative life end and mercifully it happened with enough time for most of his nearest and dearest to attend him. Even more mercifully he passed on in peace.  Perhaps that’s the reason it couldn’t and wouldn’t happen. When creativity ends, we need to pause, to think, to feel, to be present in that moment, or moments.

The crochet will come back. I have comfort-ghans to make. That I can do, but maybe not for a day or two.

10 responses to “When the crochet won’t work…

  1. Ouch. Thinking of you.

  2. Thank you Kaet. (And everyone else for their well wishes, thoughts and prayers)…

    It really is surreal. But, you know, at least we got the chance to say good bye.

  3. Laurie, you and your family are in my thoughts. I’m so very sorry for your loss. He sounds like he was an amazing man.


  4. Laurie.. You are so in my heart to day. Lots of prayers for you and the family.

    Your last paragraph touched me. On October 27th, it was 9 years ago I lost my Father in Law. He said said almost the exact same thing to me 10 years prior on our wedding day and then again just 29 short days before on our 10 anniversary. There isnt a day that goes by that I dont miss him still.

    If you need ANYTHING let me know!

  5. I, too, am sorry for your loss. How nice that you are able to write so eloquently when your fingers aren’t able to do what they normally do in stressful situations. They may not be doing what comes easiest, but they still did well.

  6. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs. Karla

  7. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It seems that a lot of my crafting community is going through this in one way or another. To paraphrase the Beatles, there is a time to hook, and a time to be warmed by the afghans of others. All my best to your family.

  8. Thank you all so much. Joe was a phenominal man with amazing talents. You can read about his life’s work here:


  9. My heart hurts for you and your family. Your father-in-law sounds like a real gem. I’m sorry you lost him. Sometimes the grief is so heavy and thick that it seems we can’t do anything beyond taking the next breath and putting one foot in front of the other. The things we usually depend on in times of “normal” stress, like your crochet, are beyond our reach. As you said, it will come back as the worst of the grief begins to lift.

    About all the little things – the hug, the back rub, the cup of tea – that you didn’t think really helped, be assured that they do. They may not seem to do much at the moment, but later you and your loved ones will remember them and know they helped.

    Hang in there, kiddo.


  10. Thank you all again for your kind words, thoughts and prayers.

    Our family is coming out of the shock and haze. It all just moved so fast, and we are so grateful to have our loving family and friends to help ease this time.

    I’m grateful to all of you, for pouring positive energy. Now that the dust is beginning to settle, I’m about to get back to work on things.

    Much love to all,

    Laurie Wheeler

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