A few months ago, my friend Christy and her family lost Tupi, their beloved cat of 14 years. The kids had received Desser the Best Ever Cat (tissue warning - if you are a pet lover this book is a weeper!)
and in the story the little girl has a framed photo of her cat to remember him by...so Christy asked if I would make a special frame for her 5-year-old daughter Emily.
Now I could go on and on about how I've known Emily since birth, and how much I love my own pets, and how meaningful it was for me to put together, but let's be honest. Life gets in the way. The holidays came and the snow came and I putzed around working on it here and there and when I finally got it done it sat on the desk in my studio for a few weeks (I will also admit here that Christy and I are HORRIBLE about getting together even though we live in the same town :)) and THEN I will admit that this time of year can make me a "cranky crafter". I'm getting ready for the first HSN show of the year, and CHA is coming up, and I'm working on HUGE projects and I haven't worked on anything of my own in months and my creative juices feel like they are being sucked dry and being crafty starts to feel like work instead of fun.
Like I said - cranky.
Fast forward to Friday night. Christy invited us over for dinner (again - truth be told - we invited ourselves - but isn't that what friends are for?) and I almost forgot to bring the frame with me, but at the last minute I grabbed a grocery bag and tossed it inside and we headed out the door. When we arrived we got ourselves settled and I showed it to Christy, and she oohed and aahed over it and showed it to Emily, who gave me a big hug and said thank you, and I was happy I'd done it but honestly didn't think anything else of it. About 10 minutes later everyone was standing in the kitchen having a glass of wine and catching up. I turned to ask Christy a question and over her shoulder, sitting quietly on the living room couch with her back to everyone and her knees tucked in to her chest, was Emily...hugging the frame.
In that moment, a wave of emotions came over me. I was honored that Christy had asked me to make the frame, and embarrassed that I'd seen it as just another project to complete before I moved on to the next one. I was thrilled that it meant so much to Emily, and grateful to be reminded of why I love this craft so much and what joy it brings to others.
Emily didn't let the frame out of her sight for the rest of the night. She talked to it, she petted it, she tried out different shelves to see where she wanted to put it, she showed it to her stuffed cat (also named Tupi), she talked about what photo she wanted to put in it. I had always known how much Emily loved Tupi, but I had forgotten how much it means to be able to share your memories and tell their story until Friday night. Sometimes you need a swift kick in the pants to realize how lucky you are, and sometimes you need a 5-year-old named Emily.
So here's to Emily - for reminding me that being able to give someone a tangible, huggable memory of a place or time or person or thing is an incredible gift to be celebrated and appreciated and cherished. And here's to Tupi - the best ever cat.