You wore a red cable knit sweater shortly before you died,
it was one of your favorites.
I have photograph after photograph of you wearing it,
each one a different memory I turn to for warmth.
The red of the sweater always brought out the strawberry highlights in your hair
lighter and brighter as the summer wore on.
Even when you stopped coloring your hair
your silver strands still reflected its red glow.
The day after you died, I took your sweater from where it had been casually tossed
and I inhaled deeply.
You smelled clean — of Dove soap and soft musk.
And in one single moment a thousand memories of you brought me to my knees.
I folded up your sweater
with care and reverence
and I sealed it in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag
so I would always have it to remind me.
On your birthday I took it down from the top shelf in my closet.
I unzipped the bag–carefully and only by an inch–
lowering my nose into the bag as my body lowered to the floor,
those memories again bringing me to my knees.
Quickly, I sealed the bag shut, feeling guilty and regretful,
afraid I had lost your scent forever.
As if that were even possible.
As if I could ever forget your smell.
Like Dove soap and soft musk.
* “On Your Birthday” by Christy Anna Jones via The Shine Journal: The Light Left Behind.