Everyone’s got their breaking point
For me it’s spiders
For you, it’s me
— The Tragically Hip, “Spiders”

Spiders are a fact of living in a Victorian house. They may not appreciate the natural light as much as the lease-holders do, but they do love the high ceilings, poor weatherproofing, natural building materials and strange architectural nooks. If you live in a Victorian, it helps to cultivate a mild interest in them as pleasantly silent and unobtrusive roommates — roommates who occasionally, for their own quiet and many-legged reasons, crawl into your hallway to die.

One of those strange architectural nooks, a doorless, foot-deep half-closet in a tiny half-bedroom, is where I keep my yarn — along with all the other stuff I can’t easily fit in my apartment’s minimal closets. What with being crap at sleep lately thanks to stress and situational depression and late working hours, I start a lot of projects late at night. Thanks to those same factors, there’s quite a bit of clutter in the way of my yarn stash. This means a lot of leaning over toward the yarn bins and clawing through them to pull up bags of yarn. Most of them are sorted by weight, type and intention, but every once in awhile I pull up a bag of gorgeous skeins that have nothing in common with each other. I guessed that there was some interior logic to them, but it took me awhile to realize what they were: yarn from when my mom was dying.

I visited a lot when she was sick, but there’s only so much you can take of waiting on someone who’s dying. Hell, Mom couldn’t even take it herself; the last time I saw her, she split halfway through the day on her scooter. I bumped into her in the driveway. She said, looking embarrassed and a little defiant, she was sorry, but she got cabin fever and couldn’t stay trapped in the house all day. I told her no, of course, I completely understood and didn’t want her cooped up for my sake, and I watched her scooter grumble away over the pavement.

Whenever I got my own panicky itch, I’d strike out for the local yarn store. It was only a few blocks away, carried natural fibers, and was relatively quiet for a busy weekend shopping district. I’d go there half blind with restlessness and foreshadowing, and paw through bins until I found something I liked. I’d buy a couple skeins of something interesting with no plan for what to make, stuff them in my bag and throw them in my yarn stash when I got home. I never really remembered what I’d bought because I wasn’t buying yarn, I was buying ten, twenty minutes of my mom not dying.

I miss her. It’s more yarn than I realized. I haven’t pulled it all out and sorted it yet because while the piles of candy-apple red yarn I’d earmarked for making things for Mom don’t bother me, these skeins are a little history of my own grief, and I’m a little afraid of how big the pile will be.