I bookmark my sun-ups to sun-downs with tears these days. Opening emails has become an exercise which requires a box of tissues close at hand and I’ve learned not to put on my mascara until I am safely away from computer access. Just two short weeks into the project and there are 8 squares finished (those are the ones that I absolutely know of, and have seen photographic evidence of), but many more have been promised. And already 6 of those squares have been dedicated to lives that have been lost from the LGBT community.
Just 6 dedications and so many tears. What I’ve learned already is that these dedications don’t just land in my inbox with no context. For every single dedication there’s been a process of correspondence, emails and facebook comments exchanged back and forth with the partners and family of those that this blanket, amongst other things, seeks to remember. Getting to know, even on a “virtual” level, those people is proving to be life-changing. I am touched and privileged beyond belief that people are trusting me with the stories of those they love. The stories they tell me will go into the blanket unedited, raw, and desperately moving.
I have hesitated about whether or not to share any of those stories here, before the blanket is finished but have finally decided that I should. How can you, reading this from whatever distance, really access what the blanket is about unless you experience it? If reading one or two of these stories inspires just one more person to pick up some needles (or a hook) and contribute…
So, today, Rebecca W. shared with me a photo of the square she finished for Hannah. I’m now sharing that with you, along with Hannah’s story.
Hannah Landers, at 17 years old, was an outspoken advocate for gay rights and was one of the original members of Dunbar High School’s Gay Straight Alliance. Intelligent, compassionate, persuasive and hard-working, she was an invaluable member of the Memorial Garden crew from its inception. I met Hannah in April of 2007 after my son’s fatal auto accident – she was Jesse’s friend and became mine too. Hannah’s passion to help others was evident in all that she did, from working at the Garden to interviewing for the documentary “Straightlaced: How Gender’s got us all tied up.” She was driven by many things but a large part of her dedication was due to the suicide of her friend Josh Shipman. Josh, a flamboyant and openly gay youth was only 15 years old when he took his own life.
In May of 2008, just over a year after Jesse’s accident, less than two years after Josh’s death, Hannah was in a fatal car crash.
This square is dedicated to Hannah and for all the good that she would have continued doing in this world. The purple, pink and yellow fibers are from her own knitting basket. Purple and red were Hannah’s favorite colors. The bright pink is for her friend Josh, the yellow is the color for Jesse and is the same yarn she used to knit a scarf for me in the Fall of 2007 (she said she stayed up all night to finish it) in honor of my son.
There’s nothing more I can add.