Thursday, 18 July 2013

Letting Go of the Black Sweater

We're having a garage sale on Saturday and, in preparation, I decided to go through the two wardrobe boxes languishing in our basement. Both were full of clothes I'd left down there when we moved a year and a half ago—clothes I wasn't sure I'd fit into, post-baby #2, as well as some seasonal items. As I was digging through one of the boxes, I found it: a black sweater with faux-fur panels down the front.

I bought that sweater two winters ago. That was the winter I was pregnant with baby #2. It was also the winter that my mother died.

There isn't anything special about that sweater. It's not a designer brand, it wasn't expensive; I'm pretty sure I bought it at H&M. But I bought that sweater because wearing it made me feel tough and edgy. Strong. And that was a time when I desperately needed strength.

I remember wearing that sweater to the hospice to visit my mom. It was January, and the weather was bitterly cold. We knew it was a matter of days, at that point, so my family took shifts: we'd sit at her bedside for a while, then drink tea in the hospice's kitchen or wander aimlessly down the nearby country roads. My mother was already so far gone that I wondered if she even knew we were there.

As she struggled for breath, I was struggling, too. Dealing with the nausea and fatigue of the first trimester, I also had to deal with the waves of sadness that crashed over me in the middle of the night. For me, those two events—my pregnancy with baby #2 and my mom's death—are forever intertwined. 

That sweater is a reminder of a particularly hard time in my life. But more importantly, it's a reminder that I got through it. And today, I no longer need that physical "armour" to feel strong.

 I am strong.

So I'll gladly put the black sweater out on Saturday with my other discarded clothes. I'm done with it now; someone else can have it. I hope it gives them the same strength it gave me.

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