I have this dress. It really was quite simple. Black with white piping along the edges. A wrap dress that tied on the side. I considered this to be my "little black dress" for many years. Whenever I was feeling gross about myself I knew i could always put it on and make myself feel fabulous.
I remember the first time that I wore it. I paired it with black fishnet hose, these adorable round toe heels with a delicate bow. I curled my hair - something that I rarely do. I wore it to a church that I was visiting in the fall of 2003. I'm not going to lie, I looked good.
I've worn this dress many times between the first time and the last time. But I don't know if I'll ever wear it again, although I'm not sure I'll ever be able to get rid of it.
You see this is the same dress I wore with several masks. The "I'll be ok" mask, the "She's in a better place" mask. The "God has his plans" mask. The mask of the person who "keeps the family together." The mask of the "strong person" in the family. I wore so many masks at that point in my life - did I ever stop to really be me and wonder how am "I" going to get through this?
I wore that dress as I welcomed people from every stage of her life. I wore it as I sat on the front row with my siblings. I wore it as all her children (including me) got up and sang a song together - something she always wanted us to do. I wore it as friends and family said goodbye. I wiped more tears on that dress that day than I've ever cried before. I wore it while we stood around in the snow at the cemetery. I wore it while we ate dinner at the church I grew up in. I wore it as my uncles started to sing songs after the dinner - I remember HAVING to join them. She would have loved that.
And then that night I took it off. That day I wasn't looking so good.
I have worn that dress only one time after her funeral, and it was awful. All I could do is remember that cold day in December. Something I don't wish to re-live any time soon.
The dress still hangs in my closet, and every once in a while I run my hand across it when looking for something to wear and the memories come flooding back. I probably will never wear it again. It was a good dress. A dress I loved.
But I loved her more.
Today is 4 years without my mom. I remember 4 years ago today so clearly. After being at the Hospice care center for almost a week I felt the need THAT DAY to sit and hold my mom's hand ALL.DAY.LONG. and so I did. While I sat there I talked to her. I let her know that I loved her more than words could ever say. I sat and read a book that the Hospice center provided about an ardvark having to say goodbye to a friend (I think), and I took a nap - all while holding my momma's hand. Then around 9p.m. a nurse came in and checked my mom out - for some reason I remember her looking at my mom's ankles. She then re-assured me that it would still be a few days, and told me to go home and get a good nights sleep (I had been sleeping on a couch, a bean-bag, the floor - wherever I could fall asleep at the hospice center). So I went home and as soon as I laid down the phone rang, and it was my aunt telling me that my mom had went home. It was 11:06 p.m. We drove back to the hospice center - we were one of the last to arrive since we were the farthest away. We joined the rest of the family that was there. We gathered around her body and all held hands and sang songs of praise to our Great God. I don't think anyone wanted to say goodbye to her. I *think* I was the first to go and give her one last kiss on the cheek - and then I left the room. It was and still is the hardest night of my life.