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.