Cover Photo: photo of the author’s mother in 1981
photo of the author’s mother in 1981

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.

photo of the author and her mother

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.