Good evening everyone.
My friend died today. She had not been well over the last year or so. I suppose it is odd to call her my friend. We never met face to face.
Cheryl's sister is a congregant of mine. Some years back, Cheryl was having some personal challenges. Her sister thought that she might do well to speak with me. I was both flattered and nervous.
Cheryl had been hit by a car. The recovery was slow and arduous. It seemed that one of the few things she felt comfortable doing was knitting. Together, Cheryl and I came to appreciate what she could do with her knitting skills. Cheryl knitted. She knitted mittens for cancer patients. These were not people she knew. Still, at their darkest time, a complete stranger reached out. Cheryl knitted many, many mittens. She will likely never know how much her efforts touched people. After a recent death of a fellow knitter in my own congregation, we arranged to have the leftover yarn sent to Montreal. I knew it would be put to good use.
We kept in touch by internet off and on after our initial conversation. About a year after that chat, I found a small package in my mailbox at the office. The return address was Montreal. I knew what it was before I opened it. Cheryl had knitted me a hat. I smiled for the rest of the day. Wow. Years later, it continues to touch me, even though my daughter has since appropriated it.
In April of 2016, my son was hit by a car on his way to school. Cheryl and her husband were sufficiently alarmed that they made a donation to Cycle Toronto in his honour. Please note: my son walked away from that collision.
This year, I found another package in my box. I naturally assumed that Cheryl's knitting needles, likely capable of going on auto-pilot at this point, had been at work again. I was wrong. There was a bag of Dove bar miniatures (yummy) from Cheryl's personal stash not for me, but for my daughter. Please note: this chocolate is not available with kosher supervision in Canada. Cheryl, I had purchased a bag of those chocolate miniatures to mail to you. It was in my office with my full intention of sending them to you from all of us. By the way, I was slow getting back to you. My daughter's favourite colour is purple.
To Cheryl's husband Michael, her son David, her sister and brother-in-law Glenda and Alan, the Torah speaks of all of the craft work that was part of the building of the Mishkan, the traveling sanctuary that the Children of Israel took with them during their journeys in the desert. Two of those crafts were weaving and spinning. I am certain that had knitting been around in those days, it too would have been included. I am certain that Cheryl would have been in the thick of it. And in continuation of that m'lekhet Kodesh, that holy tasking of building the Sanctuary, Cheryl created tiny sanctuaries for countless people she did not even know.
Cheryl...I am one of those people. You looked after me. You looked after my family. Thank you.
May her memory be for a blessing.