Monday, January 18, 2016

Black cashmere sweaters...

Finally, the weather has turned chilly in San Antonio. It doesn’t take much of a drop in temperatures for me to pull my warm woolens out of storage for our few cold SA days.

A few days ago, I reached for a storage box of black cashmere sweaters. Rummaging through my plethora of BCS, aka black cashmere sweaters, I had to chuckle at the ridiculous number I had acquired over the years. 

Perhaps an explanation is needed. From the very beginning, my November birthday and Christmas were too all consuming for Steve. He abhorred shopping and the fact that he had to do major present buying in back-to-back months almost sent him over the edge.

It didn’t take me long to discover that Steve had found his go-to for this present buying dilemma…the perfect classic, timeless gift…a black cashmere sweater. Normally, I would receive the said sweater on either my birthday or Christmas, however there were a few years that, either having forgotten that he had given me the sweater a month earlier, or the fact that he was completely stumped, and had nothing else to buy, I would receive two BCS in one season. There were several years I was given the exact same sweater on Christmas morning that I had received a month before for my birthday. Oh, this wasn’t done intentionally by any means, Steve had simply given me so many similar BCS over the years that they just began to run together. On those years of duplicate gift giving, I learned to give him a big hug, tell him how much I loved the BCS and then quietly exchange it later in the week. I don’t think Steve was ever aware of his faux pas.

As I rifled through by large storage box of BCS, I smiled. Each sweater was slightly different: turtle necks, crew necks, v-necks, boat necks, a cable knit, a longer tunic type, all different, but, each was solid black and made of cashmere. Aside from the few exact replicas, I never took one of these gifts back to the store, nor have I ever purged my stash and handed one of my beloved sweaters down. Instead, I allowed my collection to grow loving that my precious husband had taken painstaking hours to hand select the loveliest BCS he could find. Today, I’m so pleased that I have kept all these sweet treasures.

At the bottom of this box was a carefully folded tissue wrapped sweater…my favorite of all. Pulling the sweater from the box, the tissue fell away and as the sweater unfolded, I held it immediately to my face. Oh, how I hoped to breathe in the scent of Steve. I hoped the fresh smell of Steve’s soap mingled with his favorite cologne were still embedded in the fibers of this sweater, but too much time had past, as had that all too familiar scent of Steve. In my hands was Steve’s favorite BCS, one he always looked so handsome wearing. I can still see the crisp blue collar and cuffs peaking out from under this sweater. I can remember Steve draping his arm around me, and this sweater keeping me warm on cold evenings. I clung to Steve’s sweater a bit too long that day, much like a small child holding a favorite blanket, finally I folded it back in its tissue and placed it a top my collection.

Cooler temperatures were in the air this morning and it was one of those rare days when I realized I didn’t have to leave the house all day. I showered, threw on my favorite jeans and a pair of socks and reached again for Steve’s BCS. 

Harris, my three year old grandson, likes only to wear clothes that he feels “comfy inside of.” Truthfully, he would rather be naked, but when necessary he looks for clothes that are the most comfortable. I knew exactly what Harry meant today when I took Steve’s sweater and pulled it over my head. It fell away from the frame of my body, the sleeves dangled long past my hands, but oh, it was comfy inside, just right for a day like today. Smiling, I headed for a seat beside the fireplace and began to write these words.

Odd that I have no clue, even now, what my intention is in writing this piece. I rarely know where my writing will take me, but today seemed a good time to visit the sweet familiar, a time to reflect on my cherished memories of Steve.

When Steve died, I was fearful that my memories of him would be about those last few months we spent together. I was fearful I would always picture Steve as tired, weak, failing, frail, so foreign from the reality of him being strong, agile, capable, funny, caring, wise and so very adorable.

I find in these years since Steve’s passing that rarely do I think of him as he was in those last months of his life. Thankfully, today my memories of Steve are filled with the sweetest remembrances as I smile when I see him so completely delighted with himself because he had found me the perfect gift…a black cashmere sweater.

Time has a way of blurring, no softening, the harsh edges of death. God has a way of allowing me to find what is true and honorable and lasting. I am thankful I saved all my beautiful black cashmere sweaters and that they will always serve as a reminder of a man I was privileged to spend the best part of my life with.

For what it’s worth,

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—think on these things”

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