Christina Brockett
and DiAna Smith

Christina Brockett


The Stitched Sun
By DiAna Smith

Inspiration piece

Sorrow-filled screams pierce the wire mesh of our front door screen on this pleasantly cool late August morning.  That’s Dana’s voice.  I quickly put my six-week old son in his crib. I fly down the fourteen steep steps from our second-floor nursery and go out our screen door, straight across the street to Dana’s home that mirrors mine.  Between her heart-wracking sobs, I begin to pick out Dana’s words.  “My baby is blue.”  “John Joseph is not moving.”  “He’s in his crib in his nursery… so still.”   Dana pitches forward and then throws herself back in her hysteria.  A neighbor’s grip steadies her.  Dana’s body heaves, her eyes flash, her face contorts in pain. She can’t stop screaming.

My eyes are drawn to the top of Dana’s steps where her six-year old son, Luke, is standing framed in the doorway to their home.  He’s stunned into silence by his mother’s wails. When Luke was put to bed last night, he had an infant baby brother and happy parents.  Now, Luke is thrust into an uncertain world of horror.

Blaring sirens draw closer.   In sudden sequence a fire truck, ambulance and police cars round the corner.  Emergency providers appear and surround us.  With expert precision they scoop up Luke and take Dana inside their home and close the door.  My mind’s eye has been snapping pictures of these scenes and forever etching them on my brain.

Frantic, I run home to my own infant.  Paul, Dana’s husband, soon is delivered home in a police cruiser.  Paul works as a high-ranking law enforcement official.  Surely, this is the reason for the parade of police mixed with family going in and out of his and Dana’s home.

I hold my son all day…my arms and shoulders ache in unison with my heart and head.  Around eight o’clock, I finally get dinner on the table with one arm…our son nestled in the other.  Just when my husband and I pick up our forks, there is a hesitant knock at the front door now closed against the summer heat.  Who could it be? What unfortunate timing.  We welcome Paul in to our living room.  Paul slowly walks to our sofa and sits down heavily.  With hugely swollen, tear-filled eyes Paul tells us that John Joseph died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. We escort Paul home just to hug Dana; there are no words to say.

I throw out our uneaten dinner — the fresh green beans now a wilted grey, the edges of the beef slices dark brown and curled. I am thankful that our son, born 3 days after John Joseph, slept, ate and was held free from harm all through this long day.  And, I know I will be pushing sleep aside for years to come to repeatedly check on our son’s breathing.

When September comes, Dana is able to sit with me in my solarium in the mornings after Luke begins first grade, Paul returns to work and she is home alone with her memories.  We each stitch needlepoint canvases.  Dana stitches pink geraniums with lush leaves in soothing shades of pinks and greens. I stitch a large blaring sun for my son’s nursery in an energy-filled array of yellows and oranges. I laboriously stitch a joyful face on the sun one small stitch at a time in gratitude that my son lives and that Dana finds solace with us.

As Dana stitches through her grief, she haltingly tells me that she and Paul are under police investigation – supposedly routine in infant deaths.  Seemingly as Dana locks in tiny stitches she unlocks her heart. In this solarium sanctuary, Dana slowly begins telling me the evil things people say to her when they pass her in the grocery store, at the playground with Luke, and even at their church.   Strangers and people she knows voice suspicions…accuse her of smothering her baby; call her an unfit mother; say she a murderer. Life has become torment for Dana.

Weeks later I take Luke, visiting with Dana, from our solarium through our living room, dining room and into our kitchen to help me prepare a snack for him and his mother.  Once safety out of his mother’s sight, Luke looks up at me with sad eyes much too old for his innocent little boy face and says, “DiAna, Mommy’s baby died.”  I whisper, “I know, Luke.  It makes your mommy sad.  You make your mommy happy.”

Months later, Dana fashions her finished geraniums into a pillow for her wicker chaise.  My stitched sun is stretched, put behind protective glass, framed and hung in our son’s nursery.  Two years later, we sell our home and move to Atlanta, 600 miles away.  I resume my career.  Over the next five years Dana and I remain friends, then gradually loose touch.

Now, thirty-six years later, my son asks me for his stitched sun for his own expected daughter’s nursery. My mind reels back to 1972, those somber scenes, the deep emotions — both grief and grace — locked up in those small stitches. I’m astounded that the stitched sun shines in my son’s memory as strongly as it shines in mine.  His just asking me for it brings me true joy.   And with sudden clarity I realize I’ve never stopped carrying Dana close to my heart.



Note:  All of the art, writing, and music on this site belongs to the person who created it.  Copying or republishing anything you see here without express and written permission from the author or artist is strictly prohibited.