Friday, January 21, 2011

The sweater

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.


the misfit said...

I'm teary-eyed reading this. What a beautiful reflection.

areyoukiddingme said...

That sweater might be something you need forever - a tangible reminder of someone you loved to hug. A warm and comforting connection to both of your parents. I'm glad the darkness is not so oppressive.

delphi said...

I think it perfect that you have the sweater. You will find the right place for it in your life. Big hugs.

Illanare said...

This is beautiful. And the sweater it perfect, a constant hug to and from your daddy.

Rosepetal said...

Hugs Kristin. I did the same thing after my Dad died nearly 4 years ago now, and still keep one of his favourite sweatshirts in my wardrobe and his old pocket thesaurus and dictionary which he lovingly kept from when he was a student. I don't have any plans for these items except to keep them. I'm glad I did as my mum - necessarily for her - has thrown or given away his old clothes in the meantime.

In fact reading your post I might just get the sweatshirt out and bury my face in it as I'm sure you'll do often to your Dad's sweater.

Mrs. Spit said...

I wish I had words beautiful enough to remark on such love. Abiding.

Pipsylou said...

I think what I love most is that your dad had a butter yellow cardigan with faux wood buttons. :)

Makes me smile.

So glad you have it now.

aerialsmama said...

I love that you have his sweater, it is a great reminder of him and something you can hold on too. I keep silly things, like I have a half drank bottle of Canadian Club Wiskey that was my grandfathers, I can't get rid of it, won't drink it (gross) and it just sits there as a reminder of a man that meant so much to me. It helps, if only for a second. (((HUGS)))

ApronStringsEm said...

I'm so behind in commenting. First of all, please know that I am truly sorry for the loss of your Dad.

As I unexpectedly lost mine this past December, I can relate to this post. When cleaning out some of my Dad's stuff, I only wanted one item of his. One that would remind me of him forever. So what if I'd never wear it? So what if it was a piece of jewelry meant for a man? It was my Dad's ... and he wore it all the time.

The ring will likely stay in my jewelry box forever. It's not likely that I'll ever have a son to pass it on to; or a nephew from my one and only sibling to give it. But knowing that I have a piece of my Dad close by me has brought me ... if even a little ... comfort and peace of mind.

Sending hugs and prayers your way ...