Hi, I'm Katie Diez.
When my dad died of cancer in 2006, my mother gave me his dress shirts. I was glad to have them but I missed my dad so much, I decided to store them away until I felt a little stronger. It took me ten years to finally pull them out. When I did, I wanted to do something meaningful and decided to use them to make a quilt for each of my siblings, my mother and myself. As I started the process of cutting them into squares, I came across a tomato seed stuck on the outside of one of his shirt pockets. On a whim, I put the seed in water. A few days later, much to my surprise, it sprouted! Over the weeks that followed, this little seed grew to be a 10-foot tall tomato plant! I have been harvesting the seeds from the tomatoes and sharing them with people who have lost loved ones ever since.
I call them comfort seeds.
To me, they are a symbol of the beauty of impermanence and the cycles of life and death. They have provided hope, healing, connectedness and joy. They keep on giving as long as they are shared.
Sometimes flowers grow
in the soil of ashes.
Pick them as you go.
Goodbye Road, Johnnyswim
In my job as a pediatric occupational therapist, I work with many children who have experienced trauma and loss. Year after year I find myself telling them my story, and they always seem to listen with rapt attention. When I ask them to help me plant the seeds, they always say yes.
Now, four years have passed since I found that tomato seed stuck to my dad’s shirt. Each year, I harvest seeds from the tomatoes and plant new ones in our greenhouse along with the basil, cucumbers, and peppers. These seeds live happily in the garden greenhouse all summer and then I harvest those seeds to gift and grow. The cycle continues- and the seeds are traveling far and wide.
At the beginning of 2020, I read that Denmark’s Happiness Research Institute was curating a Happiness Museum. They asked for submissions of items that bring people happiness. Without hesitation, I thought of the Comfort Seeds. I submitted a brief story of the seeds, and much to my delight, the seeds were accepted to be displayed as part of the museum's permanent collection.
As I write this, artist Manda Bryn Severin and I are collaborating on a children’s book about the Comfort Seeds.
As we all know, 2020 has been a year full of challenges. I have both witnessed and experienced some intense loss and grief in the last twelve months. But this project has been a balm and a ray of light in the midst of the pain. For this reason, Manda and I want to share the creative process with you- in the hope it brings you the same joy and comfort we've felt. We invite you to sign up for our newsletter, connect with us on facebook and instagram, and keep an eye peeled here for Comfort Seeds updates.
Wishing you the best,