I sewed new buttons on an old cardigan tonight. I've had it for four or five years now, and it's been in need of new buttons for three of those years. A couple of the old buttons broke off and when I bought some new ones, I accidentally bought ones just the tiniest bit too big. So the cardigan went without buttons for a long time and I just wore it open.
It's a slightly scratchy black cardigan, ribbed at the cuffs and hem. The yarn is an acrylic-wool-nylon blend that has felted very slightly over the years. I think the body is knit in stockinette, but it's hard to tell, given all the pills in the yarn. It's comfortable and warm, and its new light blue buttons seem to suit it. It's a bit tatty, I suppose, but I like it because of the people it reminds me of.
Five years ago? Six? while working at a retreat centre that my family has gone to ever since I can remember, I met a family who was also working there. I grew close to them for the summer, and still miss them today. I was close to the mother and the daughter, less so to the son and the father was working overseas at the time. This was a time when I was changing and growing a great deal, and these friends were a sounding board for me. I remember being utterly at peace with a great deal regarding my spiritual life, and yet terribly confused about my life and vocation. That fall I was starting what would be my last year of high school, and simultaneously my first year of college, and I was trying to make some decisions about my future, and I was filled with uncertainty and doubts about the course I had originally chosen. Ultimately, I stayed on that course, which has led me here to Canada and to continuing to study linguistics, and they went their way, thousands of miles away to join the father of the family overseas. I hear from them occasionally, but not often. But that fall, at Thanksgiving, back at the retreat centre, I stopped by their home. They were going through old clothes, getting rid of things. The mother offered me an old sweater. I love sweaters and accepted it with delight. Wearing it feels like a hug from her. In spite of the distance of years and miles, every time I put it on, I remember them, and their friendship, and the encouragement they always gave me, and that I was sort of part of their family, if only for a summer.
So sitting here, in a cardigan that I can finally button up again, I look down at my sweater, and am transported back to that Thanksgiving. The cold, wet woods, playing frisbee golf at the local YWAM base with my friends, sitting in an empty building listening to four of my friends playing djembes while the sound echoed off the walls, trying to keep preschoolers indoors out of the rain and entertained, and wishing it could last forever. I miss the peace of that place, and the friends I met there. It's been far too long since I've seen any of them. I wish them well, wherever they are.