Upstairs in his room he continued to let out sighs, as he moved about. I spied the hand-me-down shirt from his cousin who he loves dearly and we just spent a fun filled weekend with. This was one of Brody's favorite shirts, would you like to wear this today? His face lit up, OK! He put it on and let out a sigh, different from earlier ones - sigh of release, of relaxation, one that says, its going to be all right. This feels cozy, as a smile spread across his face.
The morning continued on with laughs and a renewed sense of energy. When I gave him the five minute heads-up that we'd be leaving soon he announced he'd be right down. We walked to school and he talked about what the day held, a trip to the computer lab and new friends he might sit next to at lunch. There was no mention of tired legs or crowded rooms. Once inside the building, he stood in line outside his classroom. He held his backpack in his hand and I noticed that he straightened his shirt, pulling it down in front and giving it a slight smoothing gesture. We hugged, kissed and I said goodbye, just as we have done all the previous days.
I left the building, headed out for my run and I couldn't help but reflect on the morning - it wasn't his favorite cooked apple slices that I prepared for breakfast that turned his morning around, it was a shirt; a cozy, colorful, hand-me-down shirt that did it.
I remember that feeling though, of putting on one of my sisters dresses or tops as a little girl, loving finally being able to wear her things, the knowing that it belonged to her and was worn by her. Something in that history made it more comfortable. Its for those same reasons that I love holding Grandma Archer's Bible in my hands, touching the pages her hands touched, running my fingers across the scriptures she underlined. It is why when I am missing my Dad I put on his favorite NYPD ball cap, or drape his thick flannel shirt over my shoulders. It's a comforting weight.
The dictionary states synonyms of hand-me-down as secondhand, worn, old, used, shabby, castoff. Not flattering by any means. Look a little further though and you find the word preloved.
I have no idea if pulling Brody's hand-me-down shirt over his head is what in fact turned AB's spirit around. I do know that he loves his cousin tremendously and looks up to him so I have to think wearing something that belonged to him felt good and right and uplifting. Maybe in the wearing of something preloved, AB himself felt a little more secure, a little more ready to face the day, a little more connected.
In addition to the regular peppering of questions I lay on AB after school, I asked, how did it feel wearing Brody's shirt today? With a smile he replied, I loved it.
I know the feeling son.