Thank you, apple green sweatshirt!

Green sweatshirtIt’s always a good thing to do a clothing review, and oust the items that no longer work. This a chore that I have made a job of avoiding. However, with both daughters home for a month, it turned a dreaded task into a fun collaboration, plus an opportunity to give new life to items that better suited a daughter than me.

Most items were an easy choice but I ran into an unexpected challenge with my zip-up apple green sweatshirt. It fit fine, I still wore it a lot and it was even in good shape after twelve years. I had bought it during my  treatment for breast cancer, when I favored an item I could manage easily over my usual hoodies.

I had come across it unexpectedly, the only item of its kind and color in a store that otherwise carried dressier women’s wear. I slipped into the snuggly, bright sweatshirt every morning before coming downstairs into the cool kitchen every fall, winter and spring. It hung on the back of my bedroom door, so I regularly caught a glimpse of its cheery green.

I had long ago given away some of the other cancer related items: the variety of soft fleece hats that kept my bald head warm, the silly floppy hats. My beloved, funky, plaid Rocket Dog sneakers that made me smile when I bought them during treatment had survived until this clothing round. I still loved them, but the bottoms were worn and it was not hard to give them the boot.

What, then, was the hold this sweatshirt had on me? Was it that I appreciated being able to wear a “regular” item when I was feeling so tender? Was it the practicality of a zip-up item? Was it the thread of attachment to a time that although painful, was still a part of my history, part of what formed me? Not all the days during treatment were abysmal. There were birthdays and graduations, nights on the town and nights in with belly laughs. I hiked and biked, worked and chaperoned field trips. 

Perhaps it was all of these things. It had become part of the scenery and I didn’t think about it. But it was time to send it on to someone who will use it in her own way, who might go apple picking or dog walking, or to the grocery store. Perhaps it will carry the loving energy with which the sweatshirt was imbued. Perhaps she’ll sense that it needed new experiences.

Big Brother Big Sister came yesterday to pick up the bags of clothing and items my daughters and I have decided to pass on. The green apple sweatshirt will start its new chapter and I will continue mine. Twelve years out from diagnosis, I am still biking and hiking, going out, and laughing in. I will not forget the lessons gained while wearing it. I have learned to ask for help when I need it (mostly). I deeply appreciate offers of help. I pay attention to what my body tells me, and know when yoga is enough or when I need to go to Zumba on the same day.

At 62, I feel my limits have been stretched and continue to expand. There are countries to explore, people to meet, new mountains to scale. I welcome it all, knowing each part of my history builds upon the last and informs the future. I am connected to myself and my past. And by saying adieu to my apple green Northface sweatshirt, I am open to what comes next.

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About Meg

Meg is a licensed independent clinical social worker with over thirty-five years clinical experience. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton.