by Nancy McGehee Guillory
"Love is the fabric which never fades, no matter how often it is washed in the water of adversity and grief." Anonymous
I found this quote the other day, and it truly hit home. It reminded me of my parent's marriage and how, through some of the most difficult life events, they stuck together, worked together, to make it through catastrophes that would have ripped apart weaker unions. Their love was a very tightly woven fabric, durable, yet warm, and cozy, made into a well-worn patchwork quilt, that covered and protected our little family of four, and still continues to provide comfort long after their parting this world. I too had a love like my parents, with my beloved late husband, Moe. Real, true love is rare, like fine fabric, each uniquely woven, and I am convinced that is one of the reasons I have connected so closely with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels, because that quote also reminds me of her portrayal of the love shared by Jamie and Claire Fraser.
The fabric of love isn't always as well spun, or sewn together as we might hope for it to be, and often times it is pulled apart when two people aren't able to weave together their individual threads. Sometimes, the weaving process can be interrupted by one partner's selfishness, or fears, and incompatibility, much like the broken bonds between Claire and Frank. Like some fabrics, some loves are only put together well enough to last for a few seasons, coming apart with each extended use. Frank and Claire are a good example. Their fabric wasn’t intended for long term use, but only to serve each other’s purpose for the time each needed. In order for the fabric of any love to last, the threads have to blend and mesh, and form a tight pattern, like a neatly woven woolen plaid, that can endure the tests of long wear. It might fray around the edges, but will never unravel, because true, abiding love doesn't balk at frayed edges, or rough patches caused by wear and tear. Instead it pulls the threads that binds it's cloth together, and repairs the damage due to necessity, because in Jamie’s time, marriages, like one’s plaid, were mended, and not tossed aside.
The fabric of love comes in a large variety of textures. Some like Jamie and Claire’s are practical, and heavy duty, capable of offering enduring warmth and protection, strengthened by leftover tatters of loss, scraps of shared heartache, bound tightly with trust, laughter, and hope. They can also be light and airy, soft as silk, sheer as gauze, while others are as tenuous as a spiders web, gossamer filaments, thin and flimsy. What matters most is how the threads are put together to create the fabric. The fabric of love is not made from jealousy, or spite. It cannot be woven from disrespect, or spun from deceit, and disloyalty. The fabric of real, abiding, love can only be created from threads of honesty, respect, loyalty, commitment, shared hopes, dreams and goals. Each weaver must be willing to give, sacrifice anything and everything, to insure the quality of the cloth, weaving together their hearts and souls, holding nothing back until both patterns are eternally bonded together, enmeshed into one solid design. It is not an easy, or quick process, but a wholly committed lifelong endeavor. When I think about it, each of Diana’s novels are a fabric of love, as the characters and their stories are woven together to create a tapestry of epic love, history, and adventure. Having lived such a love as Jamie and Claire’s, even for just a short five years, I identify with them, as a couple, not just as individuals. Also like Jamie and Claire have done for Brianna and Roger, my parents set an example of what true love is, while just like the Frasers, and MacKenzies, they weren’t sickeningly lovey-dovey.
Outlander itself, and all the books that follow suit, are very like a favorite blanket, which is why I enjoy re-reading these books over and over again and the same can be said for the television series, which never gets tiresome with re-watching. Although bad things happen, resulting in both physical and emotional pain and suffering, the love between two people folds together, patching their wounds, darning their rips and tears, then tenderly, carefully, wiping away the smudges and stains left by tragedy and heartache. Once the damage has been assessed, that love begins re-stitching with faith what seemed irreparable, into a new piece of fabric, ready for whatever comes next in the quilt of Jaime and Claire’s lives.