A Polymer Clay Tribute, In Loving Memory of Vance, Her Biggest Fan

Polymer Clay Jewelry by Jackie Norris

Spotlight: “Two days later on September the 10th, the love of my life passed away.” ~Jackie-N

Normally I publish these spotlight features in the order they are received. But as you probably have already realized, this one deserves special attention. It is a sad story that may make you cry. But in the end, my sincere hope is that we can all join together and give Jackie a huge amount of support and encouragement to carry on with her life.

I figured the best way to share this story, is to let you read the emails that Jackie and I exchanged earlier this week (with her full blessing of course). Jackie’s words are in the red font. And mine are in black.

Hi Cindy,

I know I don’t usually post a lot but I am one of your biggest fans. I have learned so much from your videos. Recently my husband had noticed how much better my work was and he took a lot of the pieces to work to show the girls in the office. They loved them and he came home with only a couple left, He had sold the others. He also brought back orders for quite a few other things. He was my biggest fan. He would come home every day curious to see what I had done.

Well he suddenly became ill with what we thought was the flu. By the time he went to the Doctor he had pneumonia. Two days later on September the 10th, the love of my life passed away.

The reason I am sharing my story is that because of your videos, and his confidence in me, I hope that I can begin to sell my jewelry again. I had to move from NJ back to my home in Alabama where we are from. We were in NJ working for an Energy company.

So now I have my studio finally set back up and I have been trying to get the motivation to get back started with it. It’s hard because like I said he was my biggest fan. I know in my heart that he would want me to do it. So I just wanted to thank you for the absolutely wonderful job that you do, and hopefully I will continue on what my husband knew in his heart that I could do.

Thanks, Jackie

Oh Jackie,

That is such a sad, sad story. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to go through what you must be experiencing right now. Please accept my deepest condolences.

I feel humbled to know that my videos are helping you to cope with what must be a very difficult time in your life. Thank you for having enough trust in me to feel comfortable in sharing such personal thoughts.

If you are open to it, I would be more than willing (and honored) to showcase some of your jewelry photos at my blog. My sincerest hope and desire would be for this to provide you with added confidence and motivation to continue with the work that your husband became so proud of.

My blog attracts many readers every day, so your photos would receive lots of positive exposure. But perhaps more importantly, sharing your story may help to connect you with others who can provide additional love, support and friendship. Let me know if this is something you would like to do and I will make it happen.

Your Friend, Cindy


Thank you so much for your kind words. This is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. I would truly be honored to have you show some of my work.

Vance always told me the jewelry I made was beautiful. I always laughingly would say, you have to say that, your my husband. He would say I’m also your best friend and friends always tell friends the truth.

So yes I would love to do this in memory of my best friend and love of my life. Just let me know what I need to do.

Thanks, Jackie


You are very welcome. I wish for you all the strength and courage needed to survive this challenge in your life.

In regards to putting together the blog feature article, all I need from you is some photos emailed to me as attachments. Send me good quality pics of whatever you want to show, along with short descriptions of what the items are, and perhaps what techniques you used to make them.

For the main article, I’ll just use our email conversation to tell your story. I’m happy you are willing to share this and hope that many good things happen for you as a result. I’ll reference you as being from Alabama. What city should I say?

If you are able to get the photos to me fairly quickly, I will put this into the publishing schedule for this upcoming Friday if you like.

Talk Soon, Cindy


I truly am honored, I will get you the photos first thing in the morning. I have to find which box my camera is in. I am in Spanish Fort, AL, which is near Mobile.

Thanks, Jackie


I hope these photos are OK. Not a very good photographer. I just picked out some of my Husbands favorites. I will leave it up to you which ones you would like to use. Again I feel very honored to have you show some of my things. Thank you so much. Maybe it will be just the nudge I need to get motivated again.

All the jewelry that I did is from videos that I watched of yours. They are probably mixtures of different techniques. I know one of them was the watercolor which I think was was favorite. I love to do flower canes and make beads from that. I think I am just addicted to anything having to do with clay. I love learning new things. I think that’s why your website is incredible. Even if I think I know how to do something I watch the Videos and say hmmm I did not know that.  lol  So thank you again for your kind words. Please let me know if you need anything else.

Thanks, Jackie


Those photographs will work just fine. I can see why Vance was so proud of your work. The pieces are are lovely. My plan is to get this published for the Oct 23 Friday Spotlight Feature. I too hope that this “nudge” will bring you great motivation and inspiration.

Take Care, Cindy

Polymer Clay Jewelry by Jackie Norris Polymer Clay Jewelry by Jackie Norris
Polymer Clay Jewelry by Jackie Norris Polymer Clay Jewelry by Jackie Norris
Polymer Clay Jewelry by Jackie Norris Polymer Clay Jewelry by Jackie Norris

OK everyone… let’s show Jackie just how supportive the polymer clay community really is. I’m not really sure what to expect,  since I’ve never done a post like this before.

I think more than anything, just letting Jackie know that she has friends here, would do wonders to lift her spirits and provide motivation, inspiration and support.

Perhaps some of you have already been through what Jackie is having to go through right now… and could offer some words of wisdom.

Jackie, our prayers and thoughts reach out to you. In loving memory of the love of your life, Vance Norris. May he now live forever in your memories and in spirit. Blessings and strength to you.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Adam & Deborah Topolnicki, 23 October, 2009

    We know Jackie and Vance was a wonderful friend to me. Jackie and Vance did have a special relationship because they are special people. Jackie has great talent. I hope she will be able to keep up with all the orders once people are aware of her work. God Bless you Jackie

    Adam & Deborah

  2. Louise Traylor, 23 October, 2009

    My heart goes out to you in your grief. I cannot imagine what it would be like to loose the love of my life, I know you must feel so alone right now, even with family and friends all around you. May God reach down and surround you with his grace to see you through. My arms go around you in a very humble human embrace to give you support.
    Love to you,

  3. Donnie Spielman, 23 October, 2009

    Jackie, those pieces are absolutely beautiful and the way you combine the beads to make the jewelry shows a lot of imagination and creativity.
    Your husband was right! You will do him proud to continue on with what you have been doing!

  4. Sue Whelan, 23 October, 2009

    Dear Cindy,

    Thank you for sharing Jackie’s story and her lovely beads. I’m sure you’ll get lots of positive feedback.

    To Jackie: What a strong, positive step you have taken in continuing your polymer clay beadwork and jewellery making! There is nothing like creative work to comfort the heart. I’m sure your husband is very proud of you. I don’t believe love ever dies and I’m sure he is cheering you on. I really like your blue, black and white watercolour beads. Best of luck re-establishing yourself in Alabama and on your continued growth as an artist.


  5. Elizabeth S., 23 October, 2009


    There are probably no words that could yet bring much comfort but please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. I feel sure though, as I look at your exquisite pieces that returning to your art, difficult though it may be, will in time become an essential part of your healing. Your husband was absolutely right. your work is beautiful.
    Thank you for allowing us to share in his memory.

  6. Silverleaf, 23 October, 2009

    Oh my goodness, what an inspiring post!

    I’m so sorry for your loss Jackie, Vance sounds like such a special person and I know he would be proud of you.

    Your work is beautiful and it’s wonderful that you are doing something positive in his memory – I wish you every success with it.

    I’m not religious and don’t pray, but my thoughts are with you.


  7. Lynda Dunham-Watkins, 23 October, 2009

    Oh, Jackie. Bless you in your times when you feel so alone. He’s still there just can’t talk or touch, but you’ll always feel his presence. Your jewelry is beautiful and continue to let your best friend inspire you. I love your vivid colors. The designs are quite elegant. Keep it up and thank you for sharing with us. Hugs, Lynda

  8. Deborah, 23 October, 2009

    Jackie, my thoughts are with you, I too feel that true love never dies…Vance will live in your heart forever.
    You are a fantastic artist, and your work is wonderful.

  9. Trish H, 23 October, 2009

    Jackie, one day at a time and you will get through this. I can only imagine your pain and I hope it eases as quickly as is possible. I think you are on the right track with your beautiful work for two reasons. One, it truly is beautiful but more importantly two, because it is something you shared with the love of your life and you have so many happy memories there.

  10. Melinda, 23 October, 2009


    I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and my prayers are with you and my heart goes out to you.
    Your jewelry is beautiful. It’s inspiring. **Hugs**

  11. ElizabethK, 23 October, 2009

    Dearest Jackie, I know exactly what it feels like to lose the love of your life, and no one really knows til it happens to them, and with it unexpected in your case it certainly is much worse.
    It is so good that you can talk about it so soon, and for Cindy to let us all be with you says a huge lot for her. We all know how hard she works to give us her all and to take the time to comfort you, says wonders for her, and to have taught you so well that even tho it can never take the place of your loved one it has given you a purpose to carry on as he was such an inspiration to you and he will always be there like a guardian angel helping you
    They tell us we are strong and we will cope, but it is hard to beleive that we will ever be happy or have a life again, and when I was told that I did not see how.
    6yrs on I have made a life and you will too.
    It will be a different life, but your taking up Polymer Clay when you did was something that was, altho you didnt know at the time, was going to be there for you to get you thru these years of learning to live again.
    Your work is so beautiful you are very talented and will do well.
    I am not over Religious , but some one said to me at my time” God does not give us what we cant handle” so I wish you all the very best and know you will be ok,we all will be thinking of you and hope to see more of your lovely work in the future Big hugs to you
    Thanks Cindy for sharing this with us all, we are all likeminded here and so close in our efforts to learn all your marvelous lessons, and it has made the world such a small place getting to know each other.
    Elizabeth K

  12. Jackie, 23 October, 2009

    To all of you,
    As I sit here and read all the posts, I can’t help but cry and think, wow what a wonderful group of people, to care and share with someone that is hurting now. Your kind and encouraging words are an inspiration to me. I can’t help but smile through the tears. Vance always used to say to me “Never regret anything that makes you smile”. So I am glad I took this step, and I think it was just the nudge I did need to get back to it. Thank you Cindy and everyone one from the bottom of my heart.


  13. Freda, 23 October, 2009

    My sympathies to you. What a strong person you are to keep his faith in you so soon. I can’t imagine losing your spouse and then having to move away. I hope where you moved is close to family. Family is such a good support at times like these.
    Your jewelry is beautiful and I know it is a great help to keep you moving ahead.

  14. Catherine, 23 October, 2009

    Jackie, I am so sorry for the loss of your biggest fan, Vance. He was so right in encouraging you because you have a great talent. Thank you, Cindy for showcasing Jackie and to show how wonderful this community is. It’s great to know that there are those out there that will support and give encouragement to one of their own when one finds themselves in a painful situation. Keep on Claying Jackie.

  15. Kim Hale, 23 October, 2009

    Jackie, your work is wonderful! Vance was right about your work. My thoughts go out to you as you start a new journey in your life.

  16. Phoenix F, 23 October, 2009

    Jackie, I’m sorry for your loss. Your work is amazing and the love you put into it clearly shines through. Thank you for sharing your work and love with us.
    I find in this post and its comments the true essence of community–the sharing of joys and sorrows. I am so proud to be a part of it.

    Thanks, Cindy, for posting!

    And Jackie, I hope to hear more from you soon.

    Blesséd Be.

  17. JoyceM, 23 October, 2009

    Dear Jackie,
    Your beloved friend, Vance, was so right in being proud of you. Your work is beyond lovely. His encouragement then is so important now and I’m certain he is as close to you now as your shadow. When it is quiet he may speak to you in some unusual way. An inspiration that you cannot believe may come from him. He is not far away and ready to continue helping you in a different way. It is a new day and time for you with the hardest challenge I can imagine but I also believe there are blessings also for you to accept to help you on this part of your journey. Claying is next to nature and nature is the best healier. Continued success in your beautiful pieces. Love, hugs and blessings.

    Thanks so much, Cindy for letting us share.

  18. Rita G, 23 October, 2009

    Bless You Jackie!
    I lost my Tony in much the same way…We are never ready to let go and we never kknow just why we have to let go but God knows the reason. We have to trust to his wisdom. Your husband was right you have a great talent and now you have an angel on your shoulder to help…We shall keep you in our prayers…..

  19. Helen Sperring, 23 October, 2009

    Dear Joyce, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know just how you feel. I just lost my best friend and my love. He was my younger brother and died suddenly of cancer. I just can’t get over this and still cry every day and its been almost three months now. To help me forget I started going on the computer and found this site. I played with clay before so this site looked very interesting. Its helped me so much. Between the death of my best friend and many ailments this site was a life saver. This will be the best thing you ever did. It is the best thing I ever did. Again, my heart goes out to you. Love, Honey

  20. SANDRA G, 23 October, 2009

    Vance was so right, you do wonderful work. I pray that the Lord will comfort you in your grief. I’m so glad you have your talent to keep you going. My prayers are with you.

  21. Cheryl, 23 October, 2009

    To Cindy

    Thank you so much for sharing. I believe you are a wonderful person to take the time to be supportive and comforting as well as a wonderful teacher. God bless!
    To Jackie

    I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine what it must be like. My close friend lost her husband recently. We have no answers but time will heal the pain. Since you love claying and more so because your husband was so supportive and admiring of your work, getting absorbed in creating will be really comforting and healing.

    I love your designs – specially the necklace with the pendant.

    God Bless you and keep you in His love always.

  22. Laurel, 23 October, 2009


    You have wonderful talent that should not be wasted. Your husband was absolutely right in telling you your work is beautiful. I LOVE your beads and the jewelry you made them into.

    I like to think that besides my children, my jewelry is one beautiful thing I can leave behind when I pass on. Keep honoring your husbands wishes and memory by continuing your creations.

    And know that many hearts cry with you at this time. :(


  23. Tina Adams, 23 October, 2009

    Jackie, my prayers go out to you and yours, you are blessed to have had such a wonderful someone as your Vance was about you and your passions, he would be pleased to see you creating and passing your lovely art on to others. Blessings to you and take care, Tina

  24. Maria, 23 October, 2009

    Dear Jackie,

    I am very sorry for your loss. Your husband sounds like a wonderful man. Although he is gone physically, you will always have the warmth and goodness he gave you. This can never be taken away from you. I also want to thank you. I have been taking my husband and family for granted lately. You have reminded me that everything is transient in this life and to cherish what we are given. Sending you my love.

    P.S. Your jewelry is beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  25. aims, 23 October, 2009

    Dear Jackie,

    It is very hard to reach out when we are hurting – to reveal that we hurt and to say we need even a little bit of help and reassurance that our life hasn’t ended.

    Vance obviously saw your talent and the fact that there is a community here that you can reach out to and find comfort and support from. He saw that what Cindy has done was not to create just a teaching forum but a home where all of us can congregate and be there for each other.

    Going forward will be your biggest struggle – but there are a huge group of us either standing behind you and giving you a push – or offering a helping hand as we walk along beside you.

  26. Linda B., 23 October, 2009

    As I sit here reading all the replies, with tears in my eyes. I just can’t imagine how you must feel. Having never been married, your loss must be tremendous. I lost my father and thought my life was over. That was 22 years ago. A very dear friend said to me that my father’s time here on earth was over and that God had another assignment for him. It sounded kind of dumb at first however that saying has gotten me through many loses in my life. I feel comfort knowing that my loved ones are helping Him out somehow. I am so proud to be involved in a group with so much love. I can feel it through the screen. Jackie, as you start your new chapter in life, remember your Vance will always be with you. When you feel a little breeze against your cheek and realize there isn’t any wind, it just might be Vance giving you a kiss. Keep creating your beads. They are beautiful.

    May God bless you and give you strength.

    Linda B.

  27. Ritzs, 23 October, 2009

    Jackie i wish i could take away your pain and sorrow. I too lost a very much loved brother very suddenly and the only way i could cope was do what i love the best make beads and clear my mind of anything else. your beads are beautiful and i hope just looking at them will bring all the good memories to you and make you happy once again, may god help you through this sad time.

  28. Catalina, 23 October, 2009

    Dear Jackie,
    I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your husband and best friend. He gave you more than love, friendship and encouragement. He gave you the confidence to go on. Use your art as a type of therapy to help you adjust to the new chapter in your life. He will continue to inspire you everyday as you work your craft. I can feel him smiling down on you! Just remember to smile back! :)

    My prayers are with you,

  29. Cheryl, 23 October, 2009

    Yours sounds like a wonderful marriage with your best friend! Although he may not still physically be with you, I hope you feel your husband’s spirit with you as you go through your day and as your heart heals. Your jewelry is lovely – your mix of colors is great! You should definitely continue. My condolences to you and yours. Hugs


  30. Lisa Whitham, 23 October, 2009

    My deepest condolences…I can’t begin to imagine the pain your going through right now, I’m so sorry. ***HUG, HUG, HUG***
    P.S. Your work is absolutely beautiful..!!! (The blue earrings are my favorite!)

  31. Ken H., 23 October, 2009

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Just when you think that you’re recieving the worst the world can throw at you, you find out that your problems are but a drop of water in the ocean. Your work is wonderful, I especially like the multi colored bracelet that sort of reminds me of hard candy.

    Take time, your world has been turned upside down, no word or action will heal or fill the void more than time itself, a family member said to me after my grandmothers passing that our loved ones are never truly gone as long as they live in our hearts and are remembered in our thoughts, so remember he would want you to continue your jewelry making, it may not happen right away but one day you will feel the need, and just be ready to heed that need.

    with deepest condolences,
    Ken Hamilton

  32. Dawn, 23 October, 2009

    {{hugs}} Jackie. Your loving husband is looking on right now and is so proud of you. I feel that. Your work is wonderful. Thank you Jackie and Cindy for sharing your story (and your work). My thoughts are with you Jackie.

  33. lynn watts, 23 October, 2009

    Jackie I send my deepest condolences for your loss. Not knowing if you are religious or not (and of course I do not want to offend you) I want to pass on a wonderful song by MercyMe the song is, “I can only imagine” (see below). I love this song and it says alot. At least to my heart and soul. May God Bless You in all you do and bring your talents to a higher level. Have you heard the serenity prayer? God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change The things I can And the Wisdom to know One from the other. Your best friend and love of your life knew you oh so well. And knew you were such a wonderful artist and your jewerly is beautiful. He knew you were as beautiful as what you created. It shows in every piece you create. You are in my prayers and I hope your pain and suffering will be less as time goes by. A loss is so hard to over come, but as I read early (God does not put anymore on us than he knows we can handle.) Sympathy,& Hugs Lynn

  34. Peggy, 23 October, 2009

    Dearest Jackie, I can only imagine says it all in so many ways. I am so sorry for your loss and sadness. But you are so blessed to have been able to of shared a love and a life like what you did with your husband. So many don’t get the chance to experience what you did with your husband. He will always be in your heart right beside all your wonderful memories. Cindy has brought us all together here as a family. Please lean on us and let us know if we can do anything to help you. This group of people are so wonderful and kind. I know there isn’t one of us that wouldn’t try our best to help you in anyway we can. That is what this group is all about, should it be help with a clay problem or a personal problem everyone is there for each other.
    Your jewelry is beautiful. Maybe since your husband was your favorite fan you can use this to help categorize your jewelry. With polymer no 2 pieces are alike. You have several pieces in one style. So take your different styles and name them after a memory or word of support your husband gave you. Then you can still keep him as your favorite fan and inspiration for each piece of jewelry you make.
    God bless you Jackie today and always.
    God bless us all in this wonderful family Cindy has started for us.

  35. DJ, 24 October, 2009

    Jackie I am truly sorry to hear of your profound loss. May your memories bring you strength and guide you during this difficult time. As you grieve, I hope you can gather comfort wherever you may find it. Through family, friends, neighbors, your online community here – near or far; moments alone or with the company of others. Pursuing your dream may take time…allow yourself as much time as you need to grieve. Your lovely jewelry is an inspiration, your husband Vance was such a special person to recognize this and support what was so important to you. Please take care and know our thoughts are with you.

  36. Adrienne lindsey, 24 October, 2009

    Dear Jackie, being a widow myself, I truely understand your great loss and the support system your husband was and still is. He is in your heart, mind, in every fiber of your being and that will never change. All that you do will be a relfection of his influence on you now and in the future. He is not gone, only transformed and you need only to think of him and he will be there, heart overflowing with pride and love for you. I send you love and light and healing.

  37. Anna Sabina, 24 October, 2009

    Jackie. I cannot say anymore than has already been said in the previous posts. I hope you will follow Peggy’s suggestion to take your different styles and name them after a memory or word of support your husband gave you.
    I suggest you make a cane of special meaning to you about Vance. Reduce it to a small size and put one slice somewhere on the on the first bead of every necklace, bracelet of everything you make symbolizing and the beginning of your new journey and honoring his memory. Make a tag to include with the jewelry about the meaning of that special cane slice. You never know who will receive your creations and what impact it will have upon their life.
    I am not suggesting you cover the first bead with all the special cane slices. Do your bead design and then decide which will be the first bead and put a small cane slice somewhere on it. when I talk about the first bead I am thinking about something by the closure. We make think of a piece of jewelry as having a two ends. When jewelry is clasped together it is a circle like the circle of life where you cannot determine the beginning nor the end.

    Lynn-thanks for the video. Wow.

  38. Penny, 24 October, 2009

    Jacky – I can truly empathize with you having lost both parents,all grandparents and my guardian in the space of 5 years. I know from experience that you now have a life time to celebrate the life your your loved one who won’t be forgotten.

  39. Cindy Erickson, 26 October, 2009

    Dear Jackie,

    I just want to chime in with all of the other angels here to extend loving wishes, and heartfelt prayers for you and yours. I know how difficult it is to lose someone so close, but I also know that your love does still live on, and that you will not ever truly lose him. Please take good care of yourself (extra good care!), and please continue to make your beautiful jewelry. It is a blessing to the world, and will continue to bring you comfort and joy.

    Cindy, thank you for sharing this touching, personal and lovely article with all of us. Jackie, thank you for allowing Cindy to share it.

    Cindy E.

  40. Polyanya, 26 October, 2009

    Dear Jackie, I can’t really add anything more than whats already been said, but you are in my thoughts. I love your work and you should feel very proud of what you are doing. I hope you will feel more able to join in more often very soon and look forward to conversing with you. Love and hugs Iwona

  41. Jackie Norris, 26 October, 2009

    I just want everyone one to know again, that words cannot express the things that I am feeling as I read the kind, and sincere words that everyone has said to me. Sometimes I feel so alone with this pain that I just don’t know how anyone survives it. I do know though. It is with friends and family, surrounding you with love and encouragement, like all of you have done for me. It truly says a lot about this community. I look forward to becoming more involved in it. I sent the link to Vance’s mom whom I love dearly. She called me yesterday and she also was so touched by the love and kindness. So again Thank You everyone for the love and kindness you have shown me through this difficult time. I know Vance has his hand on my back gently giving me a nudge to get back to the things that I loved so much doing.


  42. Cindy Lietz, 26 October, 2009

    Thanks so much, everyone for being so kind and supportive to Jackie. I am truly humbled to see how connected everyone feels, and by how you all have been reaching out to Jackie with so much compassion. You are all very special to me. My deep condolences to Vance’s mom as well. ~Cindy

  43. Carrie, 26 October, 2009

    Jackie- I am deeply sorry for your loss, And amazed at the strength you exhibit. Your jewelry is amazing, truly an inspiration to me! Good Luck with your move and hope you continue to do well.

  44. Cheryl, 27 October, 2009


    My Sister lost the Love of Her Life some 6 yrs. ago from a Massive Heart Attack. He was only 52. While I cannot say I know what you went through, I can tell you that living that loss through my Sister, I can empthasize with your loss somewhat..

    One reader mentioned you never loose the Love of Your Life when they pass, but it is such a lonely place for the person left behind, even with Family and Friends lending support.

    Your husband is guiding you back into something you love, and your work is beautiful.

    If you will accept my arms for comfort, they are here for the taking.

    Good Luck and God Bless.

  45. edie, 28 October, 2009

    I’ve lit a candle and will hold you in my thoughts. How blessed you were to share a life with your soulmate! When times feel dark and lonely, I hope you can catch a thread of that love and those smiles to hold on to until the skies lighten and you can feel his touch on the breeze. Those we love are never far from us, I think, no matter how time and space intervene. I’m so glad Vance recognized your talent and your love for clay, and I know that as you continue to play with it you will feel that connection.


  46. carolyn, 06 December, 2009

    Jackie – My heart goes out to you … I know what you are feeling and the ache that is in your heart. My husband of 43 years, Don, my best friend and strongest supporter, died on April 28, 2009 – the day before my birthday. Four years ago he was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare bone marrow disease and was given 2 weeks to live. God granted us four more years together. In September I went on a solo motorhome trip which lasted 2 1/2 months. It was a healing trip, visiting some loved ones and meeting new people. I have been a wire artist for about 7 years and taught some workshops at a church in Loveland, CO. One of my students showed me her polymer clay work and I started this new art, combining it with my wire art. How I wish my Don could see what I am doing now … well, maybe he does! I know he is with the Lord which he had been looking forward to. God gives me strength, yet at times I crumble into a heap of tears and agony. I look at those times as cleansing a wound so it will heal better. I do not feel guilty when the pain overwhelms me. I know it is part of the process. I have a friend at my church who lost her husband very suddenly. We have talked often, wondering whether it is worse to lose a spouse so quickly or to watch him begin to waste away as my Don did. The only thing about Don that never faded was his love for me and his encouragement. Well, Jackie, I started writing in order to comfort you but find I just talked about myself. I guess I needed that and maybe you can find some comfort in knowing that someone else truly does know how you feel. I just found Cindy’s site a few days after getting home from my trip around the west/southwest … and 2 days after that I ended up in the hospital with bilateral pneumonia. I got back home right before Thanksgiving and am still in the recuperation stage. Even during this recovery period the hardest thing for me is to go to bed without Don cuddled up next to me. So, here I am writing to you at 3:30 in the morning … and maybe I’m not making much sense. One of the things that has helped me, along with all the prayers and love from others, has been the passage in Psalm 139:16: “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” This keeps me from feeling any guilt over Don’s death. His death date was known by God even before he was born. There is nothing that I could have done differently to extend that time. And here is another one that helps to hold me together: Psalm 126:5-6: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” This was the way it was with my motorhome trip. I left home saying, ‘OK, Jesus, where do you want me to go and what do you want me to do. Where you lead me, I will follow.’ And each day I said the same thing. I could almost write a book about where he led me and the seeds of His love that He allowed me to sow in spite of the pain in my heart. I still say that each day and right now all I am hearing is ‘rest and heal’ and finding Cindy and this community of clay artists means the world to me. When Don died I felt my desire to continue my wire art just die right along with him. Cindy and her clay tutorials are inspiring me once again. Most of the jewelry and other items that I make I sell at my church and I give the money to the church. I just pray that folks there will want to buy clay art as well as wire art. This is my main outlet though I do have a website too. I’m anxious to photo and post some of the clay and wire jewelry that I have made, but that will take more energy than I have right now. Jackie, thank you for helping me to unload to someone who does know what I am going through. May God bless you, give you peace and surround you with His love and grace. Most sincerely, Carolyn

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