“Mom’s Christmas Quilt,” Ensign, December 2014, 76–77
One of the most challenging experiences of my life happened shortly after the passing of our 10-year-old daughter from brain cancer. The saying “You can’t take it with you” came with clarity as we looked around her room one Saturday afternoon.
Clarissa was gone, but her room still held the identifiable remnants of her earthly stay. We now had the daunting task of deciding what to do with her personal belongings. I knew that parting with a single item would not be easy, especially for my wife.
Dealing with the whirlwind of details associated with hospitals, chemotherapy, and radiation had left us little time to clean and organize.
Memories came as we packed up items she’d arranged on her headboard or bookshelf. They all held heartfelt meaning—from her favorite blanket, book, or necklace to her stuffed animals, schoolbooks, and football. My wife sobbed as we asked what to do with each item.
We gathered many of Clarissa’s books and took them to her elementary school for other children to enjoy. We gave her dresser to a neighbor. Some of her clothes went to cousins. Focusing on others helped make the difficult situation of parting with her things a little easier.
Several weeks later, as Christmas approached, my two teenage daughters asked their mother if they could use some of Clarissa’s clothes to make a special Christmas gift. They selected each article of clothing for its intrinsic family memory and carefully cut squares to represent precious moments in her life.
A few days before Christmas, they and their Young Women leader, who had helped them come up with the idea, showed me a quilt they were making. I looked in astonishment at each square of fabric, which represented an event in Clarissa’s life: a square from her football uniform, a square from the shirt we bought her on a family trip, a square from the pajama pants she wore at the hospital. Each piece, so precious and beautiful, reminded me of our time with her. I told my daughters it was perfect. I knew their mother would love it.
That Christmas morning I saw a gift given from the heart. I will always remember my wife’s expression when she opened her gift and saw what her daughters had made for her. Each night since then she has wrapped her Christmas quilt around her, recalling memories and dreaming of the day our family will be united again—thanks to the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.