This past weekend I finally got around to pulling out my winter clothes and putting all that is summer away. November 1 seems kind of late in the year for that, but I am always thankful when the warmer weather hangs around a bit longer, so, 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 was quite tight). Over the summer I lost 10 pounds (I will blog on this extensively at a later date), and lo and behold, it fits! I wear it to work over my long-sleeve shirts for just that extra bit of warmth I need all winter long.
Today before I left, I put the vest on the couch and 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 – a bit surprising, actually, as Ian rarely sits on the couch ever. Funny that he managed to find the vest … he was the only one who slept on it last winter too. I know for him it’s just a warm spot to cozy-up on. He never had the pleasure of meeting my sister, so his love for the vest is completely instinctual and means nothing, really. But to me it means a whole world of things.
As he claimed his space, I began to imagine what my sister might say if she had 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, but I would have to say that of all my family – including me – she loved deepest as well. Recently, as I considered some of my daughter’s more negative traits – knowing full well how they mimic my sister’s – I was reminded that while my sister was not perfect, she always strove to love those around her in ways that embraced them fully – flaws and all.
I hated removing Ian from the vest this morning, but, truth be told, I need it now. 3 weeks from yesterday will mark the anniversary of the last week I spent with my sister. I’m not sure I ever believed that time heals all wounds – but somehow, it does. Certainly not ‘time’ itself, but there is something about the human spirit that enables us to recover from devastating experiences and loss as we move forward into more of the unknown. 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, and talk to her like I used to. Occasionally I can hear her response, but I always see her smile, a smile worth a boatload of precious gems to me.
For me 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 shared 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 spent 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 are really for.
Our windy fall has brought out the hawks of my neighborhood in droves. I see one almost every day. And whether or not it’s her visiting me is irrelevant – they 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 it with you. 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.