The Gift I’ll Never See

Me, five seconds after cracking a joke and five minutes before walking into my wedding
I’m sentimental but in really weird ways.  I don’t necessarily attach importance to objects.  Again, I chalk this up to a loss of girl genes somewhere in the easy bake oven during my gestation.  I think sometimes living a life that contained a lot of loss makes one separate memories from “stuff”.  My wedding dress was starting to become “stuff”.  I love my wedding dress.  It was one of the happiest days of my life.  I got to marry my best friend; the man that I know unconditionally has my back.  As much flack as I give him, he is there for me in a way no one has ever been.  At my worst, at my best, at my prettiest and at my ugliest; he is the constant.  However, a year and change later…

What was I going to do with this dress?  I’m not a trash the dress kind of gal.  God speed for those who are!  I don’t judge.  How we celebrate differs for everyone.  So I don’t trash the dress, but neither do I want it kept relevent only by moving it from one closet to another and another.  My mother suggested preparing it for storage with a dry cleaner which to me seemed to be a lot of bother for something no one else would wear again, including me.  I’m just not built that way.  If it’s a character flaw, so be it.

I scour the internet for all sorts of stuff, mostly research, but also occasionally pose the great existential questions to Google in a search for answers.

Me: Google:  Why does junk food taste so good if it’s bad for you?

Google:  Because you are justifying a snack that doesn’t include celery and peanut butter like we discussed earlier.  So please by all means, consider that leftover pasta “a snack”.

Me: Google:  How can I update the GPS in my truck?

Google: Still mad at the dealership?  Go to http://www.updatemyGPSallbymyselfbecauseWelshoverchargedmeforoilchangesandi’mannoyed dot calm

Me: dot calm doesn’t get you to websites, Google

Google:  No shit

Me:  When one no longer needs their wedding gown how can they use it to help someone else?  I don’t want to throw it in a bin.

Google:  Donate for an angel gown.

Me:  Say whaaaat?  Wut dat.

Google:  True story Shannon.  There’s a whole wide world out there that doesn’t revolve around you.

Me:  Now you’re just being bitchy.  That was uncalled for.

Google:  I’m bitchy?  First off, you called me, and I quote, “a stupid git” the other day because I couldn’t read your mind when you typed in “meditation for the angsty”.  How was I supposed to know you only wanted to “meditate in theory”?  Does that bullshit actually work?  Oh!  And BTW!  Have you read your blog lately?  Bitch please. You want to smite sports bras.

So I researched angel gowns.  These are burial gowns for infants that are made from recycled wedding gowns.  I checked with several places only to be told they were at capacity with donations as well as demand, but if I could sew…

Well I can’t sew.  The last time I tried I almost stitched my fingers to the button I was trying to reattach.  Now I bring such repairs to my dry cleaner who also apparently is disappointed by my lack of “wimmin skillz”.   I was starting to get discouraged.  I decided that I would reach out to one more place.  I emailed and waited for a response.  And waited.  And waited.  I had almost forgotten about it to be perfectly honest until I came across my gown in it’s latest habitat on another Saturday morning cleaning rampage.  I wanted to be a part of something so much bigger than myself even if it was only in the smallest of ways. I made a mental note that if I didn’t hear from somebody in the next week, I would go to a charity and donate to them directly rather than throw it in some moldy bin in a parking lot.  The next day I got my response, graciously accepting the offer.

So last week, I packed up my gown and shipped it to a stranger.  As I folded it, I remembered the joy of that day.  I remembered getting dressed that morning and staring at the gown hanging high on my closet door.  There’s a picture of me assessing it as it hangs in its perch. That’s a lot of fabric to tote around.  I was sizing it up to see how well I could walk in this thing.  The good news (for me) was that I wore converse sneakers and not heels.  That was also the bad news for my mother who did not take that fashion statement of mine too kindly.  I remember putting on makeup and hoping I was doing it right and wouldn’t look like a clown. I remember the look of happiness and contentment on my husband’s face when he saw me.  I remember the tears in Bobbi’s eyes when she saw the finished product after tying the bow.  I remember repeating the vows of constancy and laughter and truth and love and hearing those words pledged to me.  I cried from start to finish as I packed my donation up and hoped that the peace of that day was somehow imparted on this gown that I was offering up to a family in the worst of circumstances.   “Please God, give them peace”, I thought over and over as I stroked the gauzy material that spilled out of the package.  “Please God, give them peace.  Ease their pain.  Make the burden a little lighter.  Please let this help.  Please God.”

We are not always moved by what we don’t experience first hand.  I thank the cosmos for humbling me and allowing me to grieve for these families; to somehow stand with them, even if it’s on the very fringes.  The tears I gave them are true.  I’ve experienced loss.  I experienced pain.  I’ve experienced sorrow and rage and fear and numbness and all emotions in between.  But I’ve never had to walk through the hell that they will.  I pray I never have to.

If this is my small part; my small contribution to a family that carries the weight of the world, I gladly offer it up.  I know it won’t ease the pain.  I know it won’t help in the immediate sense.  That’s a lonely journey that no bit of fabric can help.  I believe in giving back.  I believe in paying it forward.  I believe that I have had angels in my life.  That fate has intervened and offered me a good turn; and now I should do the same for others.  I believe in the power of love and faith.  I believe in healing.  I believe in the connective forces of the universe that allow us our humanity, our most precious gift.

And for all of the exploration of my emotion in this matter it all pales in comparison to this simple email and all that lies within its words.


God Speed. 




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