It’s an old sweatshirt, with a faded picture of Taylor Swift on the front, and I’ve worn it almost everyday for the last 3 weeks.
It’s been one month to the day since my girl married her sweetheart and waved goodbye in her beautiful white dress, looking back while looking ahead, ready to start her new life – yet not quite sure how to let go of what was. We clung together, and had a moment realizing everything we had always known had changed in one day.
She’s not far, just a quick zip down the highway, but a lifetime living together as family isn’t easily forgotten. And we’ve had a few cries together since. Not because anyone is unhappy, but because we were blessed to have loved so well. And change is often bittersweet. Our night walks, daily chats and morning hugs all of a sudden different – and now it’s time to figure out a new rhythm of life.
But I don’t always keep time very well, and to be honest I’m a little out of beat and not sure which way my feet should go.
So I put on her sweater.
I bought it for her probably 6 Christmases ago and of course it was way too big, so we actually had it altered because Taylor Swift needed to fit. (And…I’m pretty sure she only ever wore it once after that.) She took it with her when she first moved out, but I borrowed it back and now I wear it almost every day when I get home from work.
It’s mine now, I’ve told her. Me and sweatshirt Taylor realize that everything has changed, but we still have each other. So we cozy up and it feels a little bit like normal life.
Except that I’m a grown woman walking around in an off-the-shoulder Taylor Swift sweatshirt.
Then I start to wonder if being wrapped up in comfort is how I process loss? How I deal with change. I remember another child of mine who got on a plane and moved to a different country to marry his sweetheart, and as I trudge around town in my tattered Taylor I recall that I did the same thing then too. Wearing his old white Star Wars sweatshirt after he left, putting the hood up over my head and all around me, letting my tears flow. Pulling it so close hoping that it would feel like he was still here.
That old sweatshirt. Still in my drawer now, because I can’t bear to let it go. It would seem I’m an emotional sweatshirt hoarder, finding comfort in my children’s old clothing.
But then, Mama.
Deep, heart-searing final loss.
The days after she died, I’d come home and sit on my bed in the darkness and I’d pull her quilt up all around me, as tight as I could. Like a cocoon of comfort. I’d wear her fuzzy sweatpants every night, and her mittens and scarf on my walks as I tried to breathe and be brave again. She was gone, but her things were keeping me warm and I felt like she was still looking after me.
It’s been over 8 months and that quilt is never far from me.
I don’t know if there’s a right way to grieve. I don’t know why, for me, it’s clothing and blankets and being engulfed in warmth. Maybe it’s because love has always been a constant covering for me. My life, that started with rejection and pain, was gathered up, wrapped up and surrounded with care and held tight.
And perhaps in my loss, I long for that covering still. I need it, like a heavy weighted blanket resting on me in the night.
It could be weird that I wear my kids clothes when I miss them. And that my mom died and I still sometimes put on her sweatpants, but it brings me peace. It’s helping me process, and it’s what I need to keep moving forward.
And, it finally feels like my life is starting to get back in step. Hannah’s been dropping her laundry off (I guess loving, missing mamas will do anything…) and staying for dinner, and my Kansas kids are soon arriving with our sweet little grand-baby. And after a dark season of grief, my mom’s beautiful roses are once again starting to bloom.
And I’m still here, walking through it all the best that I can. This glorious mess of life, and all that it brings.
I always have hope. I always find gifts and seek out joy.
Me and sweatshirt Taylor, are going to be just fine.