One year, six quilts: For Kandice K. (both of them)

Editor’s note: This post is part of a year-long series in which I finish all the unfinished quilts in my house and write about them.

I have two friends named Kandice.

Each has a last name that starts with a K, and each grew up in Kansas. They both have taught yoga and love to travel and give the biggest hugs.

I met them at very different times in my lives, though. The first was one of my first friends in college, when we were 18-year-olds running a fool around the dorms and East Campus, where all the rowdy parties were.

The second, I met in a yoga class in Austin, where she was the laid-back instructor with a soothing voice and a strong laugh. After she stopped teaching yoga, we remained friends and became close over long walks around Lady Bird Lake in the years when the other Kandice and I had lost touch.

That Kandice spent much of her 20s living abroad, teaching English, and — like all of us — sorting out what we wanted our adulthoods to look like.

The latter Kandice seemed to already have figured all of that out but was so kind and patient to offer encouragement to me while I was sorting out first a divorce and then single parenthood.

When my college friend Kandice moved to Austin after returning to the States, I don’t even know if she knew I’d had a second child or had gone through a divorce, but when our paths finally crossed, all those missing years dissolved.

My long-lost Kandice finally met my kids for the first time on a hike on the Greenbelt, and I can’t imagine what went through her head as saw her college best friend as a mom with two half-grown boys.

After that hike, my kids and I came up with a naming convention to distinguish the two Kandices — College Kandice and Yoga Kandice — and I’m so happy that, five years later, even though they haven’t met each other (yet), I still see both Kandices regularly.

My life is better with them in it.

And that’s why, when I set out earlier this year to finish six quilts that have been folded up in plastic bins, I started with one for each of them.

College Kandice is getting ready to have her own first child, and I had just the perfect baby quilt-sized top ready for her little one. It’s blue and aqua and cream and white, made from the very first (and only) quilting kit I’ve ever purchased.

I must have bought the kit around the time she and I reconnected, because I think it’s been finished for at least a few years. I pulled out pink thread and embroidered “Lily,” the name she picked out for her daughter, in the lower right corner.

I had to watch a YouTube video to relearn how to bind the outside (and make a mitered corner!), but I finished the quilt just in time for Kandice’s baby shower in early January.

Yes, I cried when I watched her open the gift. I didn’t know anyone else at the shower, but I also was her oldest friend there. You can’t replicate a friendship like that.

That Kandice and I have shared so much loss and so much love, so much closeness and so much distance. She has mentioned that her and her husband’s goal is to move back where his family is from, so I think her days living near me are limited, but our friendship has survived more than a few states’ separation, so I have no doubt she’ll be in my life all the way until the end.

Knowing that Lily might have this memento from me — and by extension, our late friend, Troy — for long after her mom and I are gone meant more than I could fit in the card I dropped in the gift bag.

Yoga Kandice’s quilt started as a birthday present two birthdays ago. I felt bad for all 12 months between those birthdays because I didn’t finish it in time, but this year, as her birthday passed in December, I decided that I didn’t want to carry that unfinished gift another year.

It’s a tablerunner quilt, inspired by one I made for my own house back when Ian and I were still married and living in the duplex with a baby and a toddler.

Long stripes, made mostly from scrapes. A little pop of color and texture here and there, but mostly dark greens, purples and gray. This Kandice is a classy lady who always keeps the most calming, beautiful homes, so I knew giving her a gift for her home with so much color in it was risky, but it’s just oddball enough to remind her of her quirky friend.

One thing that Yoga Kandice has really helped me with over the years is giving generously without worrying about how whatever you can give is received.

I decided to give her the quilt anyway, even though I wasn’t sure she’d love it. It has a little patch cut out from fabric with all 50 states on it — see what I mean about offbeat? — with “Austin” squarely in the center.

Kandice’s heart is here, and so is mine, and those walks around Lady Bird Lake have transformed into a time and space where two women who know what they are and what they want can support each other on those journeys.

Both of these women helped me get to this space. And now they both have part of me to carry with them, wherever those roads lead.

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