Testimonial from Bridget Males

"The day Karen agreed to make the quilts for us was probably the first day I had felt some form of elation since my husband had died."

The death of my soul mate is the most profoundly painful and traumatic experience I have ever endured, it leaves a sense of loss that can never be replenished, and a heart that beats at a much slower and laboured rate for without the timekeeping of it’s spiritual mate, it lacks the necessary passion and fire to fulfil it’s true potential.

When Antz died, I knew very early on that I would not be able to part with any of his clothes amongst other things. Some bereaved people are able to overcome this hurdle, but I cannot, his clothes form part of a story, our story. Every item has a memory, and those memories are what our children and I collectively draw upon for comfort.

It was my sister who had previously told me about a friend of hers who had made quilts out of her son’s clothes for his sibling and best friend at University to provide some comfort to them, although she had found the experience of making them to be very therapeutic in dealing with the loss of her son. However, my talent for sewing is limited to that of name labels in uniform and the odd bit of darning. Not only that as a Leo, it was disappointing to discover from an early age that I lacked any real flair, imagination or creativity normally associated with such a Zodiac sign.

My search for someone to make quilts for us was extensive to say the least, many people and organisations were happy to offer advice on local quilt making classes or items to avoid using such as t-shirts, woollens etc, but no-one was actually willing to take on the task of making them for us. Even if the “elusive creativity gene” had been uncovered in me, the grief was and still is too raw for me to have coped with such a task.

At a point where I was beginning to wonder if I would ever be able to fulfil this ambition, my path crossed with another recently widowed military wife. I came home from a weekend away with a flicker of hope, all I needed to do now was hope and pray, that his lady whose name I had been given would agree to make the quilts for us.

To this day, I have not met Karen, but what I can say is that almost immediately I formed a very special bond with her. The day Karen agreed to make the quilts for us was probably the first day I had felt some form of elation since my husband had died. The realisation that at some point the children and I would have something that we could cherish forever and that held together the memories of our story provided immense comfort. Having seen photographs of a quilt Karen had made for the other military widow, I knew that no matter how long the waiting list, this was THE lady to have making them.

What I had totally underestimated initially, although not for long, was the incredible creative talent that is in all respects Karen Barclay. The whole quilt making process was a personal journey that Karen and I undertook together via e-mail, texts and phone calls. This is a lady who totally understands not only the emotiveness of the task that has been entrusted to her, but the importance and relevance of the detail for each quilt, details that would never have occurred to me were even possible such is her gift for imagination. Not only that she is sensitive, relaxed and very personable. From the very beginning, I knew instinctively to trust Karen with many of the decisions, and the end result was proof enough that I was right to do just that.

The day the quilts arrived, I was speechless and totally overwhelmed. They are simply stunning, friends and family have all admired them, commented on the fact that they have never seen such amazing quilts as these and fully understand why they are our most precious and highly treasured possessions. They are an exceptional source of comfort beyond any description I could convey in words.

Am I a fan of Karen Barclay? …. You bet I am, and I hope that I am fortunate enough to meet her one of these days so that I can try in some way to express the immeasurable impact both she and her quilts have had on our journey through grief and indeed continue to do so.