In 2017, when I’d been making hearts for about a year, Janine got in touch through Facebook and asked if I could make 105 hearts to give out at her marriage to Chris.
At this stage, I’d made a lot of hearts for sad events and was delighted at the opportunity to share some love at a joyful occasion. Janine asked if I could include some “scarred hearts”, with small cuts stitched closed to signify a heart that has been broken and healed. Without going into detail, Janine let me know that her heart bears a few scars that she wanted to acknowledge as she started on a new chapter; she was dignified and hopeful and I felt a warmth exuding from her messages as we chatted over Messenger about the logistics of dates, times and pick up location.
After the wedding, Janine sent me through some photos of the big day, including one of her new stepson Parker holding a heart. She explained that her husband Chris had two sons from a previous marriage and the children referred to their wedding as “the day we all got married”. Janine had made a sign explaining the purpose of the hearts; “Chris and Janine wanted you to have an opportunity to take home a heart from today’s celebration of their love…There are many to choose from – some hearts may even have an extra stitch or two to mend the breaks and the pain that all of us experience at some point in our lives. However, through all the hard times and the good times, there is always the love of someone close to help you find your way through.”
Over the next year, I heard from Chris and Janine a few more times – they bought a set of framed hearts auctioned for a local charity and then Chris asked if I could make his wife a patched-up heart, symbolising heartbreak and healing in a larger size, more like a small cushion. The two little boys loved Janine’s heart as it was “the perfect size for cuddling” and the next Christmas, Chris ordered Cuddle Hearts for his two boys and some of his friends’ kids too.
Shortly after this, Janine got in touch with a request for a cuddle heart for Chris, so he wouldn’t feel left out of the ongoing heart-fest at their house. In running 1000 Hearts, I often hear stories of people making hearts and giving them away in far flung places, but this story brings me quiet joy in a different way. I don’t know Chris and Janine well, but it is so lovely to think of my hearts carrying a message of love between family members, and I often think of those cuddle hearts being squeezed and I hope they bring comfort (and that I made the stitches strong enough to withstand all that love!)