I had my old sweater for almost ten years. It was comfortable and warm and had a certain smell I loved, right in the center of the front, where my heart would lie sheltered by it. Sometimes I buried my nose in it and breathed deeply the scents of love and safety and peacefulness. The yarn was old and fuzzy and grey and had seen younger days, but I preferred the comfort of its stretched-out shape and the way we fit each other. I wore this old sweater every day, buttoned tightly against my heart.
I believed it would always protect me.
One day I noticed a loose thread, but paid it no mind. I tried to ignore it but it always seemed to be whispering to me: Go ahead, just pull on it a little bit. I knew if I did, I wouldn’t be able to stop (for pulling the thread was the same as firing a gun – irrevocable, unstoppable, deadly) and I wasn’t ready to give up my sweater’s comfort and warmth, its heady scent of familiarity, its way of knowing me completely.
I managed to restrain myself for an entire year. In the meantime, I tried to mend my sweater by diligently applying patch after patch, but each time I tried to fix it, my sweater seemed to lose a little bit more of its ability to soothe me, to provide solace, to protect me from the world. Its scent no longer promised a lifetime of companionship. It was becoming unrecognizable. Or maybe I outgrew it.
One day I grew tired of my sweater’s constant need for mending and I began pulling that loose thread – tentatively at first, unsure if I would be able to stand to see my sweater reduced to an uncomprehensible heap of gray, fuzzy yarn. The stained right cuff was the first to go and once it was gone I gave great tug and the entire arm disappeared. I moved over the left arm and dismantled it in an instant also.
Before I finished it off, I examined the part that was left and reflected back over the last ten years – the way we conformed to each others shape, the particular scents we imparted to each other and combined to make our own, the promise of a lifetime together – and felt saddened by my sweater’s need for maintenance I could no longer provide. In the end, I possessed no patch big enough or strong enough to keep it from ultimately falling apart.
I gave one last yank and watched it disappear before my eyes.