Last week I went to the funeral of my friend Ellen. Nearly six years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy, but last summer she celebrated five years of apparently being clear of the disease. Then two weeks later she started feeling breathless. It turned out that the cancer had spread to her lungs. She died on 3 February.
I only knew Ellen for a couple of years – I met her through our reading group. A feisty Scot, she radiated a can-do attitude that took you up and swept you along. She persuaded me to take up running, and it was entirely due to her encouragement and inspiration that I completed my first 5k Race for Life for Cancer Research last year. And it’s clear from the crowd who turned out for her funeral – some from as far afield as the US and New Zealand – that she touched many others in a similar way.
As a way of remembering Ellen, her partner Marion suggested making a quilt or wall hanging, where everyone contributes a square representing Ellen in some way, and then we all sew them together. The size is 2ocm square, including a 1cm border for attaching it to the others. So I’ve made one in felt, which is slightly bigger than 20cm, as I had to guess how much to allow for shrinkage (but it can easily be cut down). It incorporates the medal I received for running the 5k Race for Life, as I would never have done it without Ellen.
I’ll post a photo of the whole quilt/hanging when it’s complete.
RIP Ellen – you’re much missed.