Thursday, September 3, 2009
A True Story
This is the story of a little yellow sweater.
Handmade, obviously done by an amateur, it seems relatively ordinary. There are, no doubt, hundreds of little yellow sweaters being knit every day by hundreds of kind aunts, mothers, and grandmothers for hundreds of little girls. Hundreds of little yellow sweaters, each bearing hundreds of mistakes and dropped stitches that make them stand apart in the sea of sun-coloured yarn.
This little yellow sweater, with its mis-matched white bands on the arms, rough hem, and missing buttons, was never completed. To finish that hem, to add the missing buttons would be a disservice to the story of the little yellow sweater -- but we must start that story at the beginning.
The story of the little yellow sweater begins almost exactly 20 years ago in a City by the Sea, in an apartment at the edge of the City.
A kind aunt decided to make the little yellow sweater for a favourite niece, presumably as a Christmas present. I can only guess as to her feelings and thoughts, but perhaps she was pleased with herself for completing the little yellow sweater so quickly. It was only October; Christmas was months away. All that was left was to fix up the hem and add some buttons. Maybe, if there was time, she could still re-knit the right sleeve. Maybe; I can only guess.
Any theoretical plans she may have had for the little yellow sweater, any dreams she may have had about her niece wearing it were crushed, buried under a pile of rubble as the earth began to shake and sidewalks erupted, as bridges collapsed and buildings folded like houses made of cards.
The apartment at the edge of the City was located in perhaps the worst neighbourhood for earthquakes. Buildings were built on top of nothing more than sand and water; when the ground began to roll, homes -- including the apartment in which the little yellow sweater was made -- crumbled to the ground.
Everything was lost. Everything was destroyed.
Some were lucky: they lost only material possessions.
Some were not so lucky: they lost lives, loved ones.
The kind aunt was lucky; she was not permanently hurt, and neither were her two little boys. Everything they owned was buried under piles of rubble; most of their possessions were burnt to ashes. But they were lucky: they survived.
The kind aunt visited what was left of the apartment at the edge of the City often, hoping something might be yet be salvaged. Sometimes friends came with her, so she wouldn't have to face the heartbreak of staring at the ruins of her life alone.
One day, while standing at the police barricades separating her from what used to be the apartment at the edge of the City, the kind aunt experienced a minor miracle.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with a friend (who was really more like a sister), staring out at the wreckage, the kind aunt spotted a bright spot at the corner of what used to be her block.
Gasping, she flagged down a firefighter. Breathlessly, she pointed out the bright spot:
"That's mine!" she cried. "That little yellow sweater! I made it for her daughter", she explained, motioning to her friend (who was really more like a sister).
The firefighter, understanding what it meant to have something personal pulled from the ruins, dug through the mess and pulled out the little yellow sweater.
The kind aunt held it in her hands for a moment. "I made this for Amanda", she said, even though the gift didn't require any explanation. She handed it over to her friend (who was really more like a sister). "I didn't get to finish it."
The little yellow sweater was the only thing to be saved from the remnants of the apartment at the edge of the City.