It is the first week of November and I finally got around to pulling out my winter clothes and putting all that is summer away. November seems kind of late in the year for that, but I am always thankful when the warmer weather hangs around a bit longer. No complaints here.
One of the items in my winter clothes box was the down vest I took from my sister’s closet last Christmas. I debated then whether to take or keep it since it wouldn’t zip up at the time. Well, technically it zipped, but it was quite tight. A couple of months ago, I lost 10 pounds. Lo and behold, it fits! I can wear it to work over my long-sleeve shirts for just that extra bit of warmth I need all winter long.
Today I put the vest on the couch as I was getting ready to go to work. Within about 5 minutes Ian found his way onto it. Only 2 days since it came out of the box and already he has reclaimed it. The suitcase it covered last winter has long been emptied and put away, but my cat found his way to the warmth of the vest anyway. It’s a bit surprising, actually, as Ian rarely gets on the couch to begin with. Funny that he managed to find the vest … he was the one who claimed it last winter too. I know for him it is probably just a warm spot to cozy-up on. It does make me wonder if he senses my connection to her, my grief, somehow communicated to him through this piece of clothing. Sadly, he never had the pleasure of meeting my sister.
As Ian claimed his space, I began to imagine what my sister might say if she had the pleasure of watching him knead her vest before settling into its folds. Of the three felines in the house, Ian is both the most fearful and the most affectionate. My sister dealt with fear and anxiety a lot, and I would have to say that of all my family – including me – she loved the deepest as well. My sister was not perfect, but she always strove to embrace others fully – flaws and all.
I hated removing Ian from the vest this morning, but truth be told, I need it. 3 weeks from yesterday will mark the anniversary of the last week I spent with my sister. I’m not sure I will ever believe that time heals all wounds, but somehow time does have the power to diminish the pain of them. The empty space left in my heart by my sister’s absence is certainly still there. It always will be. I walk into it often now. There I talk to her like I used to. I may not be able to hear her respond, but I can always see her smile.
This month marks the beginning of a season to remember. The whole of the end of 2013 was a nightmare I would like to forget, but on the cusp of the anniversary of those dark days, I am reminded to go further back in my memories to ponder the good and the bad – the plethora of days I was privileged to share with my sister. Maybe instead of a season of grief, this winter might turn into a season of thanksgiving for the blessing of 50 years with her in my life. If I’m lucky, I’ll even remember to enjoy the loved ones who remain – while they’re still with me. Maybe that’s what memories of the ones we lose are really for.
Our windy fall has brought the neighborhood hawks out in droves. I see one almost every day. And whether or not it’s her visiting me is irrelevant. They still remind me of her, just like the vest. So, Ian, while I won’t give it over to you completely, I am willing to share. You can enjoy it’s warmth and the interesting fabric against your paws. I will remember the one who wore it for a time, because in the end, I don’t need the vest, just the comfort it brings.