A Repurposed Life

Apologies now to anyone who lives somewhere that is frequently rainy. In Southern California, currently undergoing one of the worst droughts EVER, gray skies are reason to rejoice. Rain isn’t just welcomed, but prayed for, longed for. Farmers love it. The Forest Service loves it. Landscapers love it. Writers love it. And for the melancholic, it’s validating to see the vastness of the sky reflect the interior of my thoughts.

Rain also means a day inside, which again is welcomed when you feel like every sunny day should be spent outside on scooters or in kayaks. (Not that I own a kayak. Kayaking usually involves sweating, open bodies of water, and copious amounts of sunscreen.) Rather than do something necessary, like laundry or cleaning bathrooms, I decided instead to start on a project. I have many started projects, so many that I have a giant plastic tub designated for UFOs: UnFinished Objects. This project, though, is one I intend to finish. Will need to finish.


My husband gathered alllll of our son’s T-shirts (which was many, as 12 year old boys dress in these almost exclusively.) It meant digging through boxes, his closet, even his untouched bin of dirty laundry. Together, we sorted through the jiu jitsu tournament shirts, the camp shirts, the goofy message T’s, the show shirts, and we reminisced about some of the Really Cool Things our son did and accomplished. I downloaded how-to instructions for a Too Cool T-Shirt Quilt. I washed, dried and neatly smoothed all the shirts. I found my cutting mat, plexiglass templates, rotary cutter, and special sewing machine needles. I tracked down my fabric-only-touch-these-and-I-will-cut-you scissors. I was ready to begin my tribute project.

And then my husband paused. He realized that in order to make this keepsake, we will have to destroy the shirts. Well, not completely destroy them. The shirts just won’t be clothing anymore. They’ll be repurposed into something recognizable, but different. We debated keeping a few shirts intact for our little guy. We debated which shirts we would use, and whether to add in other clothes and keepsakes, and how big would the quilt be, and who would pick the layout, and blah blah and now it’s not a debate but an argument.


And then we both paused. Although we didn’t say it out loud, I could tell we both came to the same realization at the same moment. Cutting up the shirts is so … final. It means accepting they won’t be worn again by our goofy, smart, accomplished, athletic, sometimes stinky 12 year old boy. It means taking memories out of boxes and shelves and darkness to keep them in the light. It means we’re seeking some way to hold on to his past because we have to relinquish his future.

It means repurposing our family into something recognizable, but different. 

For now, the project is on hold. Some realizations just aren’t welcome and it takes a little time to accommodate them, to make room for them in our repurposed life. Eventually, cutting and creating will be more healing than painful. Eventually, we can debate who gets to snuggle under said quilt. And maybe, eventually, we’ll even buy a stupid kayak and go outside when it rains.

2 thoughts on “A Repurposed Life

  1. What a wonderful idea. It’s not final at all. Yes, he won’t wear them, but all of you will be wearing his shirts every time you use the blanket!!! Save one or two for the little brother, but everyone can wrap themselves in your son’s things with the quilt.


  2. I love the idea, and it would be wonderful to see the finish project. Perhaps you can hand the t-shirts over for someone else to cut and repurpose those shirts into a blanket for all the family to enjoy.


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