Please let him be ok. Please let his cancer be completely gone, now and forever. Please let it not come back in any way, shape, or form…
As she dipped her brush into the paint, Maya prayed for her friend. The shirt was blue, to match his eyes. As she meticulously painted the edges of each letter and shape, she thought of her friend and prayed for him. It was the first of many prayer shirts.
Maya made them for all her loved ones. Each was simple, but different. She even made [almost] matching shirts for a friend and her young daughter. It brought tears to her friend’s eyes. “Tiffany loves to match me!” she cried.
Maya’s shirts seemed to be appreciated, but she never told anyone they were prayer shirts.
She even considered selling “prayer shirts” at craft fairs. But making them took time. And they were nothing fancy. Maya wasn’t a great artist; not bad, above average even, but not great.
She never even got a thank you card for two of her prayer shirts. Were they that bad? My mother-in-law loved them! -- But then again, she’s legally blind. Maybe I mixed them up at the post office and the wrong package went to the wrong family…?
Maya saw her dad wearing his prayer shirt – while doing yard work. At least he wears it, she thought.
Maya’s sister said she wore hers all the time – to sleep. She’d made it her sister’s favorite color. She even saw her wear it, as a pajama top, one night when she stayed over with the kids… Still, she’d made it quite a few years before. At least it’s comfy, thought Maya.
The only prayer shirt she gave away anonymously was one she made for herself. -- It had so much paint on it; it was stiff. And the glitter paint shed little sparkles all over everything. Not too comfy, but very pretty, thought Maya. After way too much time on the shelf, into the give away pile it went. -- And Maya switched to stretch paint and fabric markers.
One of Maya’s prayer shirts almost got a friend into trouble. -- When he returned home from his business trip overseas, he had to explain to his wife just how Maya knew a certain saying in their language. (Apparently she’d not known about a little gift he’d bought for Maya years before, a gift that said “1 in a thousand” – in Dutch. Maya had teased, “You guys don’t know how to count to a million over there?”)
Eventually Maya moved on to computer art and iron-on transfers, some of which peeled terribly.
After seeing one friend’s much worn and very faded t-shirt, she made him a new one, At least that one didn’t fall apart. By then she’d found a better brand of transfer. -- But not so color-fast when it was worn often out in the sun and laundered frequently. At least he loves it, she thought. But she’d just added some text to a photo taken by her husband, a photo of their friend’s favorite place.
After making prayer shirts for just about everyone she knew, Maya stopped. She got busy with other things. She had kids of her own. -- She barely had time to eat, sleep, and shower, never mind do crafts.
Then Maya’s boys grew into some of her old prayer shirts -- ones made years before for her nephews. The cracked and peeling iron-on t-shirts made good grubby clothes for playing outside. At least they didn’t fall apart completely…
The painted sweatshirts were a bit stained, but the colors didn’t fade. Maya trusted that the prayers hadn’t worn out either, and that they still worked -- for the original recipients as well as for their new owners.
Maya taught her boys how to make prayer shirts. It was a fun craft project for them and good for the recipients, too.
Maya’s husband got a t-shirt every year for Father’s Day. (Maya made the first few on her own.) Her older son made a prayer onesie for the younger, before he was born. And somewhere in a nursing home someone inherited the beautiful t-shirt her boys painted for their grandmother.
Maya got one or two prayer shirts each year, too. Hers were extra special. She had the boys decorate the front, back, even the sleeves. They were neat keepsakes of the boys’ artwork. They were her “Special shirts” -- made with love.
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