Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Difficult post to Write

I have been thinking about how to write this post for a while...and I have decided just to jump in.  I hope it won't be too difficult for anyone to read. As a cancer patient, you meet people in treatment who don't survive their illness.   You know that going into it.  I have received treatment with several people  in the past who didn't survive.  It is a given that that will happen.
With life comes death. The human condition demands it. The rub is when we as mere humans say "it is not enough." As long as we remember and pass those gems that the deceased gave us to future generations, they will live on on this side...and forever out of sight until we join them as well.

My fellow Rowdy Chemo partner has passed over to the other side. No longer in pain, no longer in fear, forever in Love. Here  you see her with her dear husband Jeff.  She worried about Jeff...that she would be leaving him, Robyn was vital and a real spitfire.  She called herself the "Breast Cancer Diva" and others called her Diva as well...I don't think she was REALLY a Diva in the negative sense...she got things done, but she really cared about others. 

Robyn loved to ballroom dance.  She loved her kitties most of which were rescues from really horrible fates.  She also just loved to have fun.  Here you see her in her Mercedes convertable which has a license plate of "OUIEEE."  ("Whee!" get it??).  Robyn and I were roomies at the Noble Circle retreat merely by co-incidence....but we often scheduled treatment together.

Just 54, Robyn had been fighting breast cancer for a while.  I think she originally was diagnosed in 2008 and it came back either in 2009 or 2010 with a vengeance.  When I met her, spots on her liver were getting better, but she recently had it attack her brain and her spine.

Two weeks ago, I had treatment with her and was concerned that she was having difficulty getting up on her own.  She maintained that it was muscle weakness caused by coming off Decadron too quickly.  Friday, I sent her some texts to which she replied, even though unbeknownst to me she was in the emergency room. I am glad that the last text I sent her said  "You are very loved."

As I have said, with getting treatment, you will come to know people who don't win the battle against cancer.  On the other hand, just before Robyn died, the father of one of my husband's family died suddenly of an aneurysm.   You just don't know and we puny humans have very little control over this.

We do have control, however, over how we live our lives and what we can do to memorialize our friends and loved ones.  The following is a tribute to Lynn Goodwin Borgman and was posted by her mother, Elizabeth Goodwin on the quiltart message list.  Elizabeth and I started corresponding and although I asked her permission to post this, I think it got lost in the shuffle.  I am hoping she won't mind, but as it was already posted in a public arena and as I think it is a wonderful tribute to both mother and daughter as well as a good blueprint on how to live our lives, I'm re-posting it here.   I also want to point out something that Elizabeth shared with me that doesn't appear in her son's eulogy....Lynn suffered from fibro-myalgia and even though in pain managed to dance around and frolic in her quilting studio.


"In the mid-1990's my daughter and I began meeting at QSDS (Quilt Surface Design Symposium) ---she came from Cincinnati and I came from Pittsburgh.  Lynn was already knee deep into fabric design yet she had also purchased an amazing amount of fabric.  To be honest, before our first venture I had envisioned the classes would be nothing more than a way for us to reconnect and share a common experience.  How naive I was-----the classes and the new friends opened up avenues of creativity and a shared adventure with others.

After Lynn died suddenly in 1999 I felt I had to keep involved in the quilting world immediately or else I would never venture forward into things we had shared.  My first step was to attend Quilt National '99.  Believe me when I tell you this, I had no sooner entered the door than I heard Lynn say "Mother,
don't you get it?"  I sought out Hilary Fletcher and asked her if she would like another award and she gratefully accepted.  That fall I went alone to Houston and reintroduced myself to Jane Dunnewold who knew Lynn's interest in surface design.  Jane helped me set the criteria for the award to be
given to the artist who had altered the fabric through the use of various surface design techniques.
The winners have been:  Jan Myers-Newberry '01, Clare Plug '03, Sandra Woock '05, Barb Wills '07, Sue Cavanaugh '09 and '11. My hope was that the winner would gain attention and new admirers thus furthering their career, and this has happened in several cases, most noticeably for New Zealander
Clare Plug and Ohioian Sue Cavanaugh.
As for myself I have thoroughly enjoyed many classes at Nancy Crow's Barn and will be attending Jan's fall class.  BTW, Lynn's fabric reside in my house. Lynn's son wrote her eulogy and I think you will enjoy reading it:

She pieced together quit of love

Dylan Borgman
Lynn Borgman
        Lynn Goodwin Borgman — entrepreneur, quilter, mother, and oft-times the real-life inspiration for husband Jim Borgman's cartoons in The Enquirer — died Feb. 3 (1999) at age 44 of an apparent pulmonary embolism. Today, we share a eulogy, edited-for-newspaper format, written by Lynn and Jim's 16-year-old son, Dylan.
        My mother loved fabric.
        I never really knew why that was until I saw her in her studio one day, completely engulfed in her work. She was singing and dancing and sewing all at the same time.
        I knew then she loved her fabric, because fabric was part of her soul.
        For everyone there is such a medium. It may be a food, an art, a song or a place, but it is the physical manifestation of the soul. I don't think many people recognize their soul medium, but she knew — and she surrounded herself with it, which is what made her special.
        If you looked in her studio you'd see colors and patterns covering walls up to the ceiling. In a way, her fabric was not unlike herself. Every single part of her was bright, expressive, inviting.
        Each piece of fabric she owned cried out for its own special treatment, and most of the time, it was all I could do to stand there and take it all in.
        She used to say that she never quite knew what she was going to do with all her fabric, but she knew it was going to be used for something. I know now what that something is.
        I always smiled when she'd say she was a quilter, because she was more of an experimenter. Quilting was too slow. Her mind was so full she rarely had time to finish a quilt before going on to something else.
        Of course, she and I knew that if she had 10 lives, she could never use up all of her fabric.
        But now, I can see that even when she was not sewing or buying fabric, she was hard at work making a bigger quilt. I can see her final masterpiece in its entirety. She made every one of us into a piece of her quilt.
        When you look at her fabric, you see its texture, its color, its individual beauty. Some pieces are large, some small, some are geometric and some are irregular. Every one is a part of her mind and body.
        My piece reminds me of her brightness, her beauty and her grace. I will hang it above my bed and it will protect me in my darkest hours. If we are ever sad, we can look at a piece and remember we have a gateway into her soul.
        As we go back to our lives, one might think her final quilt has been shattered. There is nothing farther from the truth. By talking about her, sharing stories and grief, we sew each piece of fabric together.
        So the quilt will not be destroyed but unfolded, revealing its beauty. It will reach from as far west as California to as far east as New Jersey, from as far north as Alaska to as far south as Florida, it will continue to stretch to Europe and Africa.
        Anywhere we go, we cover more of the world with her love.
        Each piece of her quilt is beautiful in its own way, but only when it is seen from above, will the true beauty be seen. I hope that wherever she is now, she can look down and finally know what her quest in life was.
        Her quilt will be with us always. With what she has given us in her short-lived existence on this earth, we can warm the world when it is cold.
        Dylan Borgman, 16, lives in Hartwell and is a sophomore at Walnut Hills High School. Pieces of his mother's quilt fabric were distributed at her memorial service."

The above was originally posted on the Quiltart message list by Elizabeth Goodwin


  1. Oh my... I was hesitant to read this post, Lisa. One month ago today, I was in the hospital with my dear sweet Mama,,,,tomorrow it will be one month since she passed on to 'the other side'. I miss her so.........

    What a lovely and dear eulogy her son wrote and a wonderful tribute to her. God bless and keep all of her friends and family in His care and may they find some comfort.

    My deepest condolences to you, on the loss of your friend. As I watched my own Mother's best friend say goodbye to her, it stuck me that I may one day say goodbye to my best friend.... I don't wish to do that anytime soon.

    As you said, we puny humans have no real control over when we pass on, but we do have control over how we treat others, and how we honor others in our life. I want you to know, that you have been a postive, most uplifting influence in my life. Your honesty, bravery, and humaness has touched me deeply. My only wish would be, that we could "dance around and frolic" in our quilting rooms together. HUGS

  2. This had to be very hard to write. Last July the same month you lost your friend I lost 7 people. Relatives, Friends, 2nd mom, best friend. All in 3 weeks. I went into a deep depression. My kids were in counseling in the time and I was taking both of them because they were fighting like cats and dogs. Well, they turned the table on me and the session was all about me. They were so concerned and I didn't even have a clue how sad and depressed I was. And I didn't realize that they saw it. It was truly a turning point in my life. Life is short. We have no control. And family is everything. We cried for 30 minutes. Even my 18 year old son. The counselor cried. I couldn't have realized how much my kids loved and cared about me. I'm so sorry you lost your friend. Really it makes you want to live your life to the fullest. ANd honestly that is what I am trying to do. You were one person that when I started in the quilting business encouraged me. I thank you for that. I hope our paths will cross soon. I would love to meet up with you in person. Thank you for sharing your intimate thoughts.