This afternoon, I was at my desk in my office when Girl walked in and said, “Look at me, Mommy.”
I turned, and there she was, wearing a sweater the color of sky. It was a little big on her, and the sleeves hung just below her fingertips. In another year or so, I’d say, it will fit her perfectly.
The way it fit me just over 30 years ago, when it was mine.
Earlier, she was looking for a teddy bear that had gone missing, and I suggested she look in one of the boxes in her room. She didn’t find the bear, but she did find two big hat boxes full of special things I’m keeping for her. In one of them, she found the sweater. I’ve kept it all these years, somehow never losing track of it over three decades.
When I was seven or eight, I had to buy it with my own money to replace the one I lost on the train at the St. Louis Zoo. The lesson I learned about taking care of my things may have had something to do with why I held onto it long after I grew out of it. Later on, in my 20s, I knew I was saving it for a daughter, if I ever had one.
That it survived this long is remarkable–I’ve moved 13 times since I left home for college.
In the early 90s, a fire in a storage facility destroyed virtually all of the possessions my sister and I had left from our childhood. Board games, Chatty Cathy dolls, Barbies, books, records. I have no idea why, but at some point before that fire, I must have removed the sweater from storage, along with a few other things. Two small rocking chairs our grandpa made for our Barbies. The bright pink pillbox hat and purse my grandma wore to my parents’ wedding in 1966. Another purse of hers, embroidered.
I’m glad to have these things, but (and this surprises me, still) I don’t miss the rest of it all that much. I was devastated at first, and I would love to have all of it back, but time takes care of things like that. The memories are enough for me.
Or they have been, so far.
But I would be holding back if I didn’t tell you how ridiculously happy (and teary) it made me to turn and see my daughter wearing my old sweater today. To see her pull up the sleeves so that her hands were free, and to watch her snuggle into it and wear it for an hour or two. I could tell she loved knowing that it had been mine, though the timeline is longer than her reach in this world and more than she can understand.
When she took it off, she folded it up as well as her newly-seven year old self could. Still, the result of her effort was a bit messy. Messy, and (to me) very, very sweet.
The way the best things we carry along with us through life often are.
I couldn’t help thinking about this song today. I listened to it a lot when I was pregnant with each of my children:
Thank you for all the well-wishes and good thoughts for my dad yesterday. He’s doing better today and there’s talk of going home, but the some of the mystery lingers.