The Green Sweater


In the picture it’s 1997. I’m 39, with my family, posing in the ’76 mg midget that never would pass smog. I’m two months removed from my own cancer diagnosis and surgery. My mom has just succumbed to her own 5-year battle. We all had one last Christmas together. She loved to order from LL Bean. The forest green sweater was a gift that hadn’t arrived in time for Christmas day. Maybe it was on back order. But a few days before my March 3 birthday, a few days after she passed, it came in the mail. Literally a gift from the grave. I still have the sweater; still wear it once or twice a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s lost a little shape, so have I. The color has faded in places and a white spot mysteriously appeared which I colored in with a green felt pen. Neruda always wrote in green the color of hope. I do when I can. I was reading Thich Nhat Hanh this morning. He talked about how he grieved after losing his mother. One night he had a dream and she was alive and well and smiling and her hair was flowing and they laughed and had wonderful conversations. And when he awoke he realized that the idea that he had lost his mother was only an idea. That she was alive inside him and always would be. I'll think about this each time I wear the sweater. Each time I take it to the dry cleaner and carefully fold it for another day. The way I think of mom and smile when I see a hummingbird; when I eat Mexican food, her favorite; when I see my kids, now grown, and my daughter and sister who love to craft like she did; and the sweetness of my son and his wife, and the smile of my sweetheart Phylly B, so generous and kind . . . I see mom's smile too and feel her love. Now as I approach 60, I understand that the gift was not from the grave. It is here now, from her, always ~