My Mother Has Terminal Cancer, and I Can’t Seem to Stop Buying Sweaters
I’m stockpiling sweaters because they signify refuge, collecting them like talismans though grief cannot be avoided.
My mother is always cold. Growing up, we would tease her about this, my father, sisters, and me. We lived in Virginia Beach, where the air slumps, moist and warm, and where the mere sight of a snowflake triggers citywide dread. What’s more, Mom spent the first two decades of her life in Connecticut and Pennsylvania—surely the tepid winters of coastal Virginia could not perturb her.
Rachel Vorona Cote is the author of Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today, which was published in February 2020 by Grand Central Publishing. She also publishes frequently in such outlets as Longreads, the New Republic, Literary Hub, Pitchfork, Hazlitt, and Catapult, and was previously a contributing writer at Jezebel. She lives in Takoma Park, MD.
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Maybe, over time, the ephemera of Jack’s life will become less explosive, like a landmine whose triggering mechanism has eroded, rendering it harmless.
I wish I could talk to my mom about the irony that, forty years later, shelves are being ransacked and we are standing in lines to buy bread.