I have my Dad's sweater hanging in the closet in the sitting room. It's the butter-yellow one with the faux wood buttons that my mom made so long ago that no one can remember exactly when; the one he wore to dialysis all summer long; the one that was finally deemed too raggedy and was replaced by a navy blue store-bought cardigan in the Fall.
But it slipped into rotation every now and again. And it's what he had on the last day he was alive. I found it at the bottom of their basement stairs, along with the shirt he'd worn to dialysis that Monday, hastily tossed away out of sight while my mom and sister waited for the coroner. And then, finally, the funeral parlor to come and take him away.
I brought it home and washed it. And I hung it in the closet that would have been Thomas'.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it - it's pilled and has a small blood stain on one arm caused by the ever-present itchy rash that plagued him. A side-effect of dialysis, we were told.
But I had to have it. I sat with him in the waiting room so many times as he wore that sweater. I watched him walk into the treatment room, slightly hunched and shuffling, with that butter-yellow sweater hanging off the shoulders that used to be broad and strong. I'd retrieve it from his bedroom when he'd forget to put it on. I'd help him into it. I hugged him hello and goodbye so many times while he was wearing it.
I needed it.
Maybe I'll wear it. Maybe I won't. But I need it here with me just the same.
I've only just started not needing to have lights on at dusk in rooms we're not using. When Thomas died, nightfall suffocated me, and I wanted to banish it before it had a chance to take a choke-hold this time.
But it's been a kinder sort of healing, and after not quite two and a half weeks the lights aren't necessary any longer. I've also stopped needing to have the TV on while I fall asleep. We still do it every once in a while, but I don't panic at the thought of falling asleep in the dark anymore. And my brain is quieter and lets me slip into sleep much easier now too.
So there's the sweater. And there's the darkness. And for now, I'm living comfortably enough with both of them.