We all have our favorite knitted sweater. You know, the one you wrap yourself in on a cool fall morning—all soft and oversized. It’s warm and soothing against the chill and the change of seasons. We reach for it and rely on it because it never fails to bring us comfort.
But over time, it begins to lose its shape. It begins to pill and fray. Too many washings. Too many wearings. And yet still we hang on to it. It’s become more than just a sweater. Memories are woven into the wool. Stories and laughter. Quiet moments and tears. Though it’s tattered, we cannot let go.
At some point, we have to surrender. Someone or something snaps one of those loose threads. And with a gentle tug or perhaps a forceful pull, the thread grows longer and longer as the sweater begins to unravel—one stitch at a time, one row at a time—until it’s nothing but a pile of coiled yarn in a heap on the floor.
As we stare at the pile on the floor, we long for what was. We grieve the loss of our dependable, comfortable sweater. We gather the yarn to our bosom and breathe in the hints of lavender fabric softener and smoky undertones from many nights by the fire. Memories play like old movie reels, and our hearts swell and break like the ebb and flow of waves lapping at the shore. One moment it is too much, let it go. The next moment, it is not enough, hold it tight. What will we do? We cannot go back. We cannot stand still. We can only go forward. But how?
Do we place the remnants of our sweater in a box, and store it on a shelf in the closet so we may revisit it, holding it and breathing deeply of its memories while we create a new sweater from a new yarn in a new pattern? Or, do we discard the remnants of our sweater and as we create a new one, begin to forget—stitch by stitch, row by row, until we have a whole new sweater and nothing to cling to from the old? Would the new sweater ever be as comfortable?
Or, perhaps there is a happy compromise. One in which we carefully gather the remnants of our old sweater, roll it into a small ball, and begin knitting a new sweater by blending the skeins of the old with the new. There is no right answer. There is only what feels right and true for each of us individually. The circumstance of the unraveling itself might dictate the best course of action. But no matter how, a new sweater must be created so that we continue to embrace the changing seasons. And, hopefully, we’ll learn to love that new sweater just as much, if not more.