Monday, October 22, 2018

Quilt #30:: Always a Buckeye

Fifteen years ago, I was happily living in Michigan, working at a job I loved, living in my own home with my dog, dating guys I met on the internet, and finishing up the manuscript of my first book. I had no idea that I was three short months from the event that would affect every one of those things. 

I have written in depth about my brain injury many times, like here, here, and here. Mostly I mention it in passing as a fact of my life, not much different than the fact that I am married and a mom. Perhaps I will write another update in January when I hit my 15-year milestone. 

So what does my brain injury have to do this quilt? That's the story. After my TBI set off the chain of events of losing my job, my house, and my book contract, I was still dating guys I met on the internet. I only half-jokingly say that I did for the free meals, but I really was quite concerned about where I would land when I lost my house. I still very much wanted to get married but wasn't confident about my prospects as an unemployed, soon-to-be-homeless, brain-injured woman in her 30s. 

One of (many) challenges of living with a brain injury is how your relationships change. I remember one of my doctors trying to cheer me up by saying I should be grateful that I was single because 80% of couples divorce after one person sustains a TBI. I did not feel better. Even without a spouse, I found that, because I looked fine on the outside, most people assumed I was back to normal. But I needed more sleep and was limited in some of the things I could do. My tolerance for places that were loud, or flashy, or crowded, was next to nil. There is an emotional weight to trying to pretend you are okay, of wanting things to be back to the way things were. But people with TBIs don't handle stress well. As a result, we crash and need more sleep and isolation. After a while, people just quietly stopped inviting me to do things. My real world got really small. But thanks to the internet, I was not completely cut off from the wide world. Hello, online dating!

Before I hit my head a second time in a year, sealing my fate as a medically-retired woman at 33, I did meet a nice guy in Ohio. I would go down and spend a week at a time getting to know him and his friends. I'm pretty morally conservative, so instead of staying with him, I would stay with his friends during my visits. While the relationship didn't work out, I really liked his friends.

I started thinking that since I needed to move anyway, maybe moving to Ohio would be a good idea because the friends I had made there all met me post-TBI. It lifted the emotional weight of having to pretend I was better, and freed me of the expectations my Michigan friends unintentionally placed on me.

One family I stayed with was the Price family. Even though Angie and Trevor are younger than me, they were more settled than I was. They had been married for a decade and had 3 young kids...and a spare room. I loved the sense of belonging they gave me when I stayed with them. They made me feel part of the family. It was an oasis in a turbulent time. 

After my first Ohio relationship broke up, I decided I was open to meeting other guys in Ohio. That leads to a whole other funny story about how I met my husband. As Niels and I got more serious, I made the move to Ohio. Niels lived in an apartment in Cleveland, and since I didn't know anyone in Cleveland, I moved in with Prices until we got married and bought a house in Canton, 45 minutes south of his apartment.  Fortunately for Niels and the Prices, we were only engaged four months before we got married!

Niels showed his dedication to me by driving 45 minutes from work to the Price's house to see me almost every evening, then drove back to his apartment an hour away. During those evenings before he bought our house near the Prices, we talked about our future. So many of my memories of that time are lost due to a lack of pictures, but the one thing I recall vividly is being in the Price's living room with Niels talking about future babies we might have. We agreed on the name we gave our son less than two years later. I don't have a picture of that moment, but I love this picture of Angie meeting our D when he was only a day old.

In 2014, the Prices moved to North Carolina. Even though we no longer saw each other often,  I will always be grateful for the generosity and hospitality. So how could I show my gratitude? With a quilt, of course. And what better design to celebrate our Ohio connection than an Ohio State quilt?

For those wondering about the dimensions, these are my notes. I can't guarantee they are accurate, but I believe they are pretty close. 
For the label, I used my new Silhouette Cameo to cut out the online of Ohio. It's still one of my favorite labels.

But best of all, the Price family moved back to Ohio two years ago!

Print this post


  1. What a special family to take care of you when you were recovering! And what a perfect quilt to gift them. Thanks for sharing your story on Wednesday Wait Loss.

  2. Jen - that is such a great story! I'm happy that you found wonderful, supportive people, and a great guy for a companion. You're headed in the right direction!

  3. I truly enjoyed reading your story. I went back and read how you met you husband. What a wonderful anarrative! I wish you all the best in your life ahead.

  4. What a cool label, and fun stories. Thank you for sharing those. It seems that the experience of alienation is very similar to that experienced when you have an autoimmune disease, when you need far more down-time and sleep than most people, travel is super hard on you, crowds and noise and scents are all phenomenally intrusive and trigger reactions and/or migraines. . . Not so fun. And, yeah, I find the connection available through the Internet to be very helpful in maintaining a sense of social presence. :)

    1. So true. I'm sorry you can relate. I say again and again that quilting is so good for my soulbecause it allows me to be a giver again.

  5. Nice Ohio quilt - I love the state shaped label.


We love hearing from you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...