I haven't been entirely honest with you. The 'My Story' page on this site describes the early days of Frit and Striker as being inspired by a glass workshop in Scotland, but this is only part of “the beginning”. What I didn't share about those early days was what came after that workshop, and did even more to inspire not only Frit and Striker but a complete transformation of me, my family, and our lives.
Bear with me - it's a bumpy ride...
Soon after that workshop, my youngest son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia - an aggressive form of blood cancer. I remember the diagnosis clearly - especially the mounting dread over the course of the preceding week as they tried to rule out the less sinister possibilities, finally followed by 'that' conversation in a side room of the paediatric ward of our local hospital. His life flashed before my eyes and our lives (as we knew them) ended.
I won't rehash the emotions I went through when we learned about L's diagnosis - everyone has a moment in their lives when things fall apart without notice. I can still feel the vice squeezing my heart as I type this, but now that I reflect on it from more than a year beyond, I remember other things - little points of light - that guided me through.
Full disclosure: I was (am? am slightly less now?) a control freak. And when you boiled everything down, a good chunk of the sheer terror I felt when L got sick was the realisation that his response to treatment was ultimately down to luck. He couldn't do anything about whether or not his cells responded to chemotherapy and neither could we. There was a moment during that first night in hospital when I was sitting next to him, asleep despite the early course of treatment running through his IV, that I felt distinctly like I was in the front car of a huge rollercoaster just as it was about ready to plunge down a hill. I HATE rollercoasters. And I realised at that moment that I would have to give up control and surrender. There was such a feeling of relief and acceptance in that moment that I carry it with me still. Those early hours helped me put complete faith in our medical teams, family, friends and a higher power (who I know is out there, even if I don't know what to call Him (Her?) (It?)).
Those little placements of faith unfurled like tendrils and connected me to others. Connected me to doctors and nurses who are now friends who greet us during hospital visits with hugs. Connected me to friends who were in the wings while I was preoccupied with work and what I used to think were priorities (ha! boy was I to learn what real priorities are!). Connected me to a newfound admiration for my other two children, who have been absolute superstars and little joy-machines while their brother received extra time and attention. Helped me appreciate even more the tremendous bond I'm blessed to have with my husband, who is a constant source of strength, support and sanity (even if I constantly push him to brink of his own!).
Over time, this is helping me reconnect with myself and my creative soul. I realise now just how much happiness, contentment, reassurance, support and love I feel from those connections - and now I crave them. I am grateful for them and for the new ones I make every day when I meet new customers and other makers over the course of this journey. I hope some of you are reading this, and if you are, THANK YOU.
As these connections strengthen, Frit and Striker grows. I have to admit I was hesitant about writing this post for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because it puts my little guy 'out there' without his knowledge. I worry that people will think I'm trying to profit from his illness, or my family's experience with it. But at the same time, my journey and my family's journey with Leukaemia isn't separate from my journey with Frit and Striker. The process of 'creating', as much as helping me deal with ups & downs and connecting me to others, gives me strength. It helps me channel the love around me into my work, which is why it makes me so happy when others respond to it; I love seeing people enjoy the colours and shapes in my jewellery and then decide they want to give that little bit of my soul to themselves or someone they love. Frit and Striker wouldn't be here without L's diagnosis and I don't think I would be here in quite the same way without Frit and Striker. And there it is again, amidst the most difficult time of our lives - gratitude.
Joy. Gratitude. Blessing. Grace. Unexpected treasures found in the darkness, pulling us into the light and lighting a new, stronger, brighter path. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for accompanying me along it.
- Melissa x