hats for the dead, angels for the living

First, let me disclaim that I don’t particularly believe in angels, and anyone who suggests that Alex is watching over me or gives me an angel card may be met with vomit or my fist.  There.  Now, with that out of the way. . .

I decided to knit a hat for Alex.  Apparently I knit hats for people who are dead, or are shortly to become that way.  The last hat I knit was a cute little eggplant hat, for a cute little baby who never got the chance to wear it.  You should probably not ask me to knit you a hat; it may portend your death.  A new, and deadly, spin on the boyfriend sweater curse (ask a knitter).

I marked a hat pattern for Alex two years ago because the man wearing the hat in the picture looked a little like Alex, but I never got around to knitting it.  Busy with other projects, and later wrist issues.  I wish I had prioritized it.  It would have looked so good on him, would have been a cozy and stylish reminder that his big sister loved him, and, of course, would have brought out his eyes.  He was a touch vain, but rightfully so.

When I became overwhelmed by the need to go to his grave, about two weeks ago, I revisited the hat pattern.  I will be going home, to visit his grave, around el Dia de Los Muertos.  I want to bring gifts to that sad, barren, headstone-less grave where months earlier I collapsed wailing as my baby brother was lowered into the ground below hundreds of roses and within the sight of at least as many people.  It will be cold there in November, and I want to bring a hat.

So I went to the local yarn store today, where I nearly broke down picking out the blue and tan wool tweeds.  I got the nicest yarn; there is no skimping for Alex’s hat.  I walked out to my bike and stood for a few minutes at the bike rack, clutching the new yarn to my chest and crying, focusing my eyes through the tears on the spider egg sacks drifting in the air down the street.  (Either they like that street as a corridor, or I’d never stopped long enough to notice them elsewhere.)  As I continued to clutch the yarn and blow my nose on my shirt hem, someone pulled up to the other side of the bike rack, and I turned around to see a man smiling at me sympathetically.  It turned out to be someone I’d met before.  Someone important in my job.  Someone I need to impress.  He continued to look sympathetic and so I talked, explaining that my younger brother had recently died, that I was knitting him a hat, and I showed him the yarn and disclaimed that I must be crazy to knit a hat for a grave.  Repeatedly I apologized for my appearance and explained that this was not how I had been planning to interact with him, that I normally look more professional, that I can make it through a workday just fine but at the end I usually cry.  Then he told me he’d lost his younger sister.

I could believe that it was just sheer dumb luck that, while losing my composure in the overwhelming misery in public, I would run into someone who I need to work with who would not only turn out to be kind but also a member of the same small, sad club.  But I can just as easily believe that my brilliant and savvy brother could somehow engineer such a thing, and I will allow myself that.

The serendipitous encounter ended with him giving me a hug despite my snotty shirt and telling me to get in touch anytime I wanted to talk.  His sister was named after a flower and died when she was a child.  I think I will knit him that flower for her.  After I finish Alex’s hat, though.






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