I first heard about Shalla when my cousin's daughter contacted me a few months ago asking if I still repaired dolls. She had a friend named Shalla who had two childhood dolls that needed repair, so Shalla could pass them down to her young daughters.
I said, "Yes, of course, have her contact me."
A couple of days later I received an email from Shalla with pictures of her dolls. We discussed what needed to be done to restore the dolls, materials needed, cost, and all the things I would discuss with any client who needed a doll repaired. She said she would send the dolls out to me with my cousin's daughter the next time Andrea was coming out to the country to see her parents.
Quite a few weeks went by before I actually saw the dolls. While I waited to receive the dolls to fix, I learned a bit more about Shalla's story.
Shalla has a rare form of cancer and is fighting for her life. It was more than just a mother wanting to pass on her dolls to her children - she longed to pass on her childhood dolls to her daughters so they could love and cherish them, just like she had as a child. She was not only giving her dolls, but a huge part of herself, her memories and her love and she needed her special gift to go to her daughters in time for Christmas.
It struck an chord deep in my heart. As a child I have known the love of a doll so special that it was cherished beyond what some might call realistic - just as Shalla has known. I have had cancer. I am in no way comparing my cancer journey to Shalla's but I do understand the devastation one feels when faced with cancer when you have a husband and a child. I will never forget the feeling of desperation when I thought of the possibility of death. I could withstand anything that happened to me along the way - that wasn't the problem. What brought me to my lowest was the idea that I might leave my son without a mother and my husband without a wife. It was unbearable to me to imagine it - and I know without asking that is is unbearable for Shalla as well.
The dolls arrived toward the end of November. They were identical baby dolls, once much worse than the other. They needed to be completely re-bodied, and my only worry was the that the old bodies were so worn that it would be difficult to use them to get a pattern for the new bodies.
I carefully removed the bodies of both dolls, and as you can see, I had a little bit to work with, but the fabric was paper thin and so torn, it was not an easy task.
The dolls got a spa treatment, and I proceeded to cut and sew new bodies and put them back together again. They had no clothes and I still had some time, so I decided to make them some winter snow suits.
They turned out adorable.., I just knew Shalla would be pleased!
I mentioned to my cousins wife that I wished I had time to make a couple of quilts for the dolls. Lucky for me she is a quilter, and got busy and started sewing two amazing little dolls quilts for these very special babies.
The dolls were ready to go back to Shalla - but then we had three blizzards in three weeks. Country roads being what they are, the dolls didn't get any further than my spare bedroom and then Christmas was upon us.
I emailed Shalla and told her that her dolls would not make it back to her for Christmas. If she was disappointed she didn't let on to me. She asked how she could send payment.
I emailed her back and told her that there was no payment needed. This was a pay-it-forward project from me to her.
Did I need money for this job?
My payment was helping Shalla fulfill her desire to share these special dolls with her daughters.
A few days after Christmas the dolls finally were on their way to Shalla. I actually had butterflies in my tummy, just thinking about the moment Shalla would give them to her girls.
I have never met Shalla - I have never spoken to her either, but today I received a small card in the mail from her that made me cry.
"Thank you for being part of my journey and showing such kindness to me and my family. Sending some more gratitude to you for being a Beautiful Soul."
All my love,
In the end my payment, was much greater than the work required.
Please pray for this young woman and her family...