Repost from Common Threads: The Heartache Behind the Silence

The day after my last blog post, my father was rushed to hospital, giving us all a scare. He is thankfully much better now, but that week marked the start of a tumultuous period of illness and loss in my family that finally cumulated at the end of April with the news in the blogpost I wrote on Friday for Common Threads. I have taken the unusual step of just copying it over, as it says all I need to say on the matter.1st June 2018: The Heatbreak Behind The SilenceAs the person behind the loose schedule of blogging duties for Common Threads, I had it in my mind that we were likely to have a quiet May as we ramped up for today, the day we returned to Bradford to support Fiona in the preparation for her Final Show whilst also hanging our small but perfectly formed One Year On exhibition that we had suggested to the college. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one that tended to weave right up until the deadline, I thought one of the more organised members might be able to write a post, but wasn’t unduly worried if we couldn’t manage it.However, a little under five weeks ago, we as a group were blindsided by some shattering news; the sudden death of one of our number, our beloved Sue G. Even now, two weeks after attending her funeral, I’m still expecting her to walk in here at the cottages we stayed at so many times in the latter half of the course, her warm smile lighting up the room as I listen to her share her enjoyment of the latest thing she’d listened to on Radio 4 that I’d never heard of… whilst simultaneously feeling shattered by the knowledge that she won’t be. Ever.I have experienced loss before, of course I have. One can’t reach nearly half a century on this earth without losing family members, acquaintances, and colleagues; and coming from a large family and attending a huge secondary school, I am conscious that statistically I seem to have experienced it more than others I know my age, my husband included. But losing Sue is different from any loss I have so far experienced. The Common Threads group are so much more than a group of fellow textile enthusiasts. Within the last three and a half years, they have become the singularly most important group of people besides my immediate family in my life. It’s hard to pinpoint why exactly, other than to say they “get me”. Being with them is safe, comforting, challenging and hilarious all at once. Right now, I feel like a wagon with a wonky wheel – still rolling along, but off-kilter. The journey is no longer smooth. Bumps in the road seem much larger. Every jolt amplifies the bruises. Something is not right. And if I feel like this, and I’m pretty confident that the other Common Threaders do too, how much worse must it be for Sue’s family, and lifelong friends, many of whom I had the privilege to meet a fortnight ago?Sue and I started at Bradford with a similar amount of weaving experience; that is to say virtually none compared to Lin, Fiona and Sue C who had all been weaving for years. However it became obvious very quickly that Sue had an unerring eye for colour, selecting harmonious palettes for every project and making me green with envy at her ability to do so. Her work was often delicate, incorporating subtle changes in texture and yarn to achieve beautiful samples and then towards the end, beautiful products. She was often inspired by her beloved Dudden Moss and when I saw her last, the week before she died, she was excited about the throw she was working on. Within a few days she had finished it and excitedly shared photographs with us. A number of her friends mentioned to me that she viewed it as a watershed piece – something to be truly proud of and something that marked the real transition from student to weaver. I will always remember the sense of wonder and excitement of exploring a gallery or exhibition with her; in fact the last time most of us saw her was when four of us met up in Leek the week before she died to visit Stacey Harvey Brown’s Tactile Tectonics Exhibition. Sue was fascinated by the construction of the pieces and delighted by the invitation to touch a number of them. Like many of our gallery meet ups, we spent most of our time together in the cafĂ©, sharing news, samples of work and successes in sketchbooks. I will treasure these trips and be forever grateful that, for far too brief a period of time, my life intersected with hers.Goodbye Sue. My thoughts are with your family as they find a way on without you and know that in this corner on the interwebs and every time Common Threads comes together, you will be sorely missed.

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