Sometimes, choosing happiness means stepping outside of our comfort zone, and we can fool ourselves into thinking that this won’t make us happy, that it isn’t actually choosing happiness. Because staying inside our comfort zone is safe and, well, comfortable, but sometimes you have to step outside that comfort to do the things you really want to do, to accomplish the things you really want to accomplish.
This past weekend, I did just that. On the day that my mother was killed, I had been working on a project. I had gotten my grandmother’s old sewing machine (my grandmother had passed away several months before) that previous weekend. My husband and I were trying then to be more environmentally friendly, and I thought a great first sewing project on my new-to-me sewing machine, would be some cloth napkins. They would be easy, and it wouldn’t really matter if my first stitches weren’t perfect.
I was ironing and cutting the fabric when I got the text from my mother asking me to call her. I immediately knew something was wrong. After several frantic phone calls where she didn’t answer, she finally picked up and told me that my father had been at the house. He had been hiding out inside while she was out working in the yard and popped out of the pantry when she came in. He had taken her pistol out of her purse and put it in his back pocket. That first time, she was able to run outside and get away. She had already talked to my brother and he and I both told her to call the police. My father being there was a violation of a protective order already in place. My sister would later tell her the same thing, so she did.
She had to go into the police station to file a report, so she asked for a police escort back. She had not been by to check on her father, my grandfather, yet that day though, which was something she did everyday by that point. She asked if my husband and I would go for instead, so she wouldn’t have to leave after getting the police escort. I told her of course, and my husband and I left in a hurry, never even bothering to pick up the fabric I had cut out for the napkins and pinned together but not sewn yet.
That would be the last time I would ever talk to my mother. Later that evening, my father broke in and shot her and then killed himself. My husband and I were the first one to the scene, arriving right as the first police car did, because we had been so close by at my grandfather’s house. We had to stay at the scene for hours, talking to different officers, to the coroner, then finally to the GBI. By the time my husband and I got home, it was nearly two in the morning, and I wanted to cry at the sight of the fabric and the sewing machine and the iron and the cutting mat. They were reminders of a life that already seemed so far away.
We fell into bed that night, not bothering to pick them up. I don’t think I even changed my clothes that night before getting into bed. It seemed pointless. We spent the next week mostly staying at my sister’s house, which served as a home base for all of us, and my brother and I and our significant others slept on the floor of her living room because we did not want to be alone. My husband went back and forth occasionally to get changes of clothes, and at some point, he cleaned up everything. It was gone when I came back to the apartment for the first time.
Over the course of the next several months, as we tried to reorganize the massive amount of stuff we got from my parents’ house, I saw them again, but I couldn’t go back to them. They reminded me too much of that day. I didn’t even want to use my sewing machine again, even though I had gotten an insane amount of fabric my mother had from the house. It just seemed too close to that day.
But as I started the blog and began to try and listen more to the things I wanted to do and the things that made me happy, and also as we really recommitted ourselves to sustainable living, I knew that I had to bring out the sewing machine again. I had to finish the napkins.
So this past weekend I did just that. And I had a lot of anxiety leading up to it, and as I started, I had issues with the bobbin (it always seems to give me trouble), and I wanted to give up. I really did. As simple as the issues I was having were, I wanted to break down and cry and throw the sewing machine in a closet and never look at it again. But instead, I pulled up YouTube and figured out to solve my problem, and got on with my project, and by the end of the weekend, I not only finished the four napkins I set out to do, but I also did another seven too. And I felt accomplished, that I finished a project that had been on my mind for a while, but I also felt as if my mother had been guiding me the whole way. And I wouldn’t have gotten that without stepping out of my comfort zone.