My Old Jacket

Things, clothes, stuff. I hold them loosely.

They don’t define me most days in most ways, but there are certain things that hold my heart.

It’s wrapped tightly in the warp and weft of the fabric, the strength and resilience of endless washings, journeys, memories.

The history of this particular article of clothing began when I was still single over 20 years ago. I had my $10/weekly splurge money on hand and was at Wal-Mart. There on the clearance rack I found this jacket hanging there. $6. I loved it immediately. It was blue, cotton and cozy but not too warm for those only slightly chilly days. It was love and at a price I could afford so I took it home that night.

20+ years y’all! I’ve carried that thing through countless moves, been married since then, birthed 3 babies and it has survived. The sleeves are a bit shorter, the edging a bit worn, but it still works.

That jacket is in the wash right now. As I was putting our youngest to bed and getting ready to get PJ’s on, the worst stuff of parent nightmares happened…throw-up all over everything! I aimed him toward me to catch it all rather than deal with cleaning carpets. It splattered my face, my hair, my clothes and my jacket.

This jacket y’all has been worn at least 2 times per day for the last almost 37 months. You see, it is the thing I put on before rocking K to sleep for naps and nighttime. It’s the perfect weight to not get too warm but prevent sticky head to my arms while I rock him side to side. It’s become a signal, a comfort and a tradition. I begin putting that on and he knows what it means. Sometimes he welcomes it, sometimes he runs from it, but it is there. A constant in his life and something that grounds him.

I think of our other children. The pictures I pull out that have me in that jacket with my oldest…walks after dinner before bed, camping trips and starry nights. There are pictures of me with our daughter, holding her and wrapping her up in this jacket.

I know it seems sad to hold on to these things. The pieces of cloth that remind me of so many things, lessons learned, places visited, dark nights spent rocking and praying. But these are the things that make us. Sometimes it isn’t the grand and the beautiful, but the common and unnoticed. Those seemingly insignificant items that can bring to light such wondrous change, breath stealing moments that pass too quickly.

Our oldest is beginning high school this year! It seems so unnatural that time has passed so quickly.

But last night, I was snuggling up with him in bed to say our prayers and talk about our day, and again it hit me how short the time is that we are afforded the blessing of being a hands on part of their day to day lives.

I’ve made our relationships a priority.

I tuck them in separately each night.

They all get it, this one on one time.

It’s hard some nights when I just want to give them a kiss and send them on their way, but those times of lying side by side or face to face with my daughter have been huge to our relationship.

The handful of times I haven’t been there to tuck them in required a double portion when I or they returned.

Anyway, as I was snuggling him into his covers and squeezing him close, I told him I needed all the E snuggles I could ever get because time was moving and ready or not we were moving too. 4 more years. That’s maybe all the time, I’ll have left with him in my house every night. It’s not long, but it will have to be enough. We can’t hold on to them forever. They have their wings that are drying and stretching, beginning to feel the weight they can hold, the joys of flying higher each day, each year. At the end of it all, the pictures will be there, the memories and most of all the things that make me feel a part of it. The jackets who’ve captured tears, the blankets who warmed them up, the walls where their charts are marked.

Though they are only things, they are precious.