Suddenly she felt a warmth rush all through her body and another voice sound through her whole being, whispering words of peace. Somehow she knew where it came from. It was love, so pure and all-encompassing that she had not even known it existed, or at least never comprehended it before. In a moment she felt how very much she was cherished and valued, and could see with clarity what the contributions of her life meant. Her life as a whole had been like a soft and colorful quilt. Some of the blocks were vibrantly colored, with intricate patterns interwoven together and the smallest of perfect stitches. Others were a soft haze of gauzy white and gray, with large stitches unevenly placed, as if executed by one who was just learning to hold a needle and thread. A narrow section slashing through the corner was a dark, angry brown, full of hard angles and frayed threads. Even though it marred the intricate beauty of the varied colors and patterns, it still seemed important, like the finished piece would not have been the same without it. Her quilt would not have been complete without the darkness to contrast the exquisite variation of experiences.
Carol Jean felt calm and peaceful. Her life had been full of meaning. Hadn't she brought three beautiful children into the world? As only a mother can, she knew exactly what each child needed to help them navigate through their own blocks of life.
To her first child Stella, Carol Jean radiated the assurance that all was well, along with a gust of confidence. She used Will's arms to wrap around her daughter the warm embrace of a father's love, while she whispered softly to her heart, saying “You can do this, Stella," and "I am so proud of you, my daughter."
For her daughter Josie, she dried the tender tears of a broken heart, left empty and childless, threatening to shrivel up and never experience the warmth of true happiness. Carol Jean wasn't surprised to find a little lost soul hovering around her daughter, unsure of how to make the leap into mortality. Will kindly took the child's hand, and with a kiss from his Grandma, guided him through the veil of haze and into his mother's anxiously waiting arms.
For her dear Freddy, Carol Jean looked far and wide for the one person who could mend him. She finally found Rory working as a waitress in a dive of a diner a few hours away from where Freddy lived. Will was particularly good at creating circumstances which seemed like trials at first sight, but eventually developed into carefully orchestrated blessings in the end. Between the two of them, they were able to get Freddy and Rory to meet face to face, after a series of unfortunate mishaps while Freddy was driving across the state for a promising job interview, and Carol Jean started the intricate work of stitching two lonely hearts together.
"You did good, Girl," Will told her affectionately as they were watching their family congregate once again, this time for the happier occasion of Freddy's wedding.
"We did good," Carol Jean corrected, taking her sweetheart's hand in her own. Her quilt was complete. The binding was finished, the threads were all trimmed, and her heart swelled with pride as she looked down at her creation. It was then that she realized she was no longer sad that her children hadn't placed one of her earthly quilts in the casket with her decaying body.
She had her most precious creation with her the entire time, and she no longer felt cold.