This sweater was worn once, by her brother before her. When Sloan died, I didn’t want to look at anything of his. It was too painful. They took him from the house, the emergency responders filed out the door and drove away and the room was quiet. Our families sat there in silence for a bit, and I tried to busy myself with dishes. I looked up from the kitchen sink in front of me, to see his jumper and his high chair in the corner. I shouted “I need someone to get those things out of my house.” And in an instant my mom and brother were dismantling them and taking them to the garage.
We packed bags that night, went to stay at my parents. We never went back to our home. Not while our things were still there anyway. My family packed everything for us, my dad took apart Sloan’s crib, my best friend neatly folded his clothes, packing them into large bins to store in my parents attic.
It took me a year before I was able to sit down on the floor in that attic, and open those bins. I went through his clothes, some still stained with his drool, never washed. I didn’t cry, I just breathed in his scent, and remembered the last time he’d worn each of them. I picked out some of my favorites, and brought them home in case someday I’d be able to cope with putting them on Phoenix. Most have sat untouched, folded in the bag in her closet. Except this sweater.