It's taken me a week to really process this and be able to write about it, and still I'm not sure that I'm especially clear-thoughted enough to be doing it. You can let me know.
Last weekend brought with it a rearranging of our bedroom closet. In doing that, I decided to decide what to do with my wedding dress.
I'd put it there nearly 20 years ago, thinking, as most new brides probably do, that maybe I'd wear it again (vow renewal?), or a child might want to wear it (not my own, certainly, as I never planned for those). And there it's sat--or rather, hung--in the dark, in the back corner, still as could be, with no real energy emanating from it at all, despite it's beautiful design, and amazing hand beadedness.
It was even still when I pulled it out of the corner, and into the light of our bedroom. I held it at eye level, looking at it as if it would suddenly tell me what to do. I finally decided to put it on, and that's where the stillness ended.
What flooded back to me were intense and vivid memories of our wedding, and of our reception. Of how I'd flubbed my vows. Of the love that filled the space that night. Of people who were there who are no longer alive. And then, the juxtaposed memories of my first dance as a married woman with Dominic, and the last dance I ever shared with my father--who died two months later.
At the time, of course, I didn't know that it would be our last dance. If I had, I might have paid closer attention to the details of it. Of how his tux felt under my cheek as I rested it against his shoulder, or of how his lips felt as he kissed my head.
I shuffled in to D's office, like a little girl playing dress-up, holding the dress together at the back because it's now way too big for me. He loved me up as he saw me standing there, tears streaming down my cheeks. He didn't say much--he didn't need to.
Back in our bedroom, I slowly decided what to do with the dress. As I hung it back on its hanger, I did up all the buttons on the back. There were 19, I noticed... and a twentieth if I counted the button for the bustle. I found it odd that I didn't know that, then realized that the only times I'd been near the buttons were when the dress was on me and someone else was tending to them. Still.
I put it back in plastic, and hung if off D's top dresser drawer. I slowly sunk into our bed, where I looked and looked at it.
The decision? To give it to Good Will.
The hope? That some beautiful fat girl who couldn't afford such a dress would buy it and love it, and maybe she would have children to give it to.
It felt right, that decision. And when I'd had my fill of the dress, I put it in another bag, and sat that by the front door.
Later that afternoon, D and I drove the dress and some other gently used items to the donation center. I couldn't bring myself to do anything but stand by the car and let D take it all over to the platform. I watched as the attendant picked up the bag I'd put the dress in, and carried it out of sight to deposit it in the trailer. For a moment, I wanted to run over, tell the man I'd made an awful mistake and get it back--for what, I haven't a clue. But I didn't. Instead, I took a deep breath, turned and got into the car, and drove away, whispering a silly thing that I used to say as a little girl, anytime I left behind a place or person I'd loved..."Goodbye, dress... I'll miss you."