Thursday, April 24, 2014

Week 23 {Embrace the Camera} Part 2: Its a pink sweatshirt- yet its not.

I have a certain sweatshirt in my closet.... a pink sweatshirt.
It's my only pink piece of clothing as the color isn't always a good one for my skin tone.
I've had this sweatshirt for fifteen years.
And when it came to me fifteen years ago it was already used.

Now, I'm not normally one for hanging on to clothing forever and ever. Most everything in my closet is less than five years old.

But this isn't just any sweatshirt.
It's comfort wrapped up in pink stitched cotton.
It's remembrance.
It's love.

It was my aunt's.

You see, fifteen years ago my dad's only sister, my sweet Aunt Sandy passed away from cancer. She was only forty years old.
The age I am right now.

She loved cozy sweatshirts and had quite the stack of them in her closet. Her husband, who nursed and cared for and loved her right to that last moment wanted each of us who loved her, to have a little something of hers. My uncle instructed us to each pick out a sweatshirt of hers....
I picked this one.

I don't remember why I settled on this particular one.... because I know pink isn't my color.
But I did.

And over the last fifteen years, I have selectively worn it a few times a year. Those times when I'm missing her something fierce.... wearing it is like wearing her hugs.
Wearing it is wearing love and comfort.

I think of her when I wear it- think she'd like the forty year old woman I've become.
I know that she'd just be head over heels about her Lucy Girl and the amazing young woman she's become (Sandy was her Godmother). And for Lu's siblings that came after she had passed.... she'd just think they were swell also.....
Oh how I miss her sometimes. Miss the relationship we were only beginning to have as two adult women working and sometimes struggling to fit in their family roles.... celebrating our accomplishments together. I was only twenty-five-- a young mama of a crazy three year old toddler, still trying to figure out how to juggle marriage and work and family. I miss the sounding board she was to me.... the quiet and calm voice of reason to my erratic, changable, selfish self.

These past eight weeks I've worn her comfy pink sweatshirt twice or more each week.... which is more often than ever.
I've worn it to work at the farm.... worn it for the hope and possibilities and keep on keepin' on attitude that it brings to my mind. Worn it like armor against the doubts that want to clamor for space in my brain as we work towards the goal of this house sale. Worn it as a stand against the stress these remodeling projects, sale indecisions and days & days without water have caused to creep in and claw at me....

She was a sweet, soft spoken, always well-put-together woman who many may have seen as fragile.... and they'd have been so very wrong to think so. She had an inner steel core that withstood so much tumult and strain. She loved Jesus fiercely and her husband almost as much so. She celebrated family and life and worked past the sore places in her heart to love on others. She was Jesus with skin on to me in so many ways as a young married woman and I never got to tell her the half of it.

As a child and young teen I wanted to be like her- soft spoken, sweet, well-put-together and full of smiles.... everything I wasn't- I was loud, too often spoke without thinking and was a farm kid with a smudge of dirt somewhere on my person at all times. As a young woman whose eyes were more open to reality- I began to know the real her under it all and I loved her all the more for being willing to show me her flaws and scars.

Unable to have children of her own, she was the one who reached out and ministered to me when we lost our baby. She loved on me and shared her real feelings with me as I was so broken.... and she, during this time, was sick- going through heavy chemo. Yet she ministered to my heart in the midst of her pain.
It was while I was sitting in the waiting room of that hospital wing, having gone with my mama to take her there, waiting there while she was having her treatments, that I had the first inkling that I could be pregnant again. Oh how she celebrated with me when we found out we were expecting! Oh how she prayed for me when I was in danger of losing the baby.... 
I can't even put into words what it was like to watch her hold my Lulu for the very first time. That image is imprinted in my mind for eternity. In some ways Lu was as much hers as she was mine.

Can you begin to imagine what this pink sweatshirt represents to me? 

A few weeks ago, during one of my selective wearings of The Sweatshirt, Lu's bestie remarked on my unusual attire- she's never seen me wear pink and I'm not one for wearing sweatshirts either (I'm a sweater and cardi gal) and Lu smiled big and told a bit of the tale I'm sharing in part here and her friend understood that I wasn't just wearing an ordinary sweatshirt.
I was wearing comfort.
I was wearing armor.
I was wearing love.
I was wearing memories.

When I pass from this life into the next and my children and/or their children go through my things they will find this sweatshirt and maybe my Lu will take it, smooth it out and hold it close and tell the tale as she remembers it. And maybe, just maybe, the sweatshirt will have weathered the years well and someone I love will slip it over their head, nestle in it's warmth and know the comfort, the strength, the love that is woven into it tighter than it's stitched pink threads.


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