March 2, 2011 by Heather
This afternoon I fiiinally made it over to my mom’s house to go through a bunch of stuff she’s had piled in a back room for quite some time now. The majority of it was stuff from the closet in my old room (now her room) as well as things from dresser drawers and under my bed. The point of going through all of it was to see what I wanted to keep, trash, put in a yard sale, etc. The majority of it went into trash bags labeled “yard sale.” There was one bag full of trash, and a shopping bag of things I wanted to keep. I also found a bunch of pictures and cards from college that were a hoot to relive. I kept them all, don’t worry.
I knew that going through a pile of old things had the potential to stir up some feelings, so I went into it cold as ice. I made a conscious effort to attach no emotion to the love letters from old boyfriends (I was a major heart breaker, fyi), the red shoes I loved so much back in the 10th grade that are now sadly outdated, the pair of pants I begged my parents to buy me in the 11th grade. I shuffled through the items, pausing briefly to remember various places of origin, and placed them in their respective bags. Cool as a cucumber, right?
It wasn’t until I ventured into another room, one without piles, that the emotion came bubbling up. My old room, which Mom now calls hers, post divorce.
I was looking for something in the top of the closet when I glanced down and saw the garment bag containing my wedding dress. My beautiful, beautiful dress. I got it down, laid it out on the bed, and unzipped it to reveal all of it’s princess-like glory. Such a shame that I only got to wear it for one day, but I suppose all brides think that after the fact, huh? I also suppose that is part of what makes it so special.
I ran my hand over the intricate beading and lace, remembering how Mom had given in to paying the extra $100 to have the lace on the train specially cut so that the edge would follow the pattern of the lace, rather than be chopped off into a straight line. Those little things that seem so huge in the moment. I remembered the trips to the bridal boutique, where Mom and Grandma traded off on making payments until it was paid in full. So much was sacrificed for me to have my perfect dress. Sometimes I wonder if I would’ve picked a less expensive dress if I had to go back and do it again with the knowledge I have now, but you know what they say about hindsight.
I lifted it from the hanger and off the bed. I held it close to my chest, feeling the weight of the layers fall gently to the floor. It was a funny sight in the mirror – me, in a tshirt and pigtails holding this gorgeous gown against my body.
That’s when it hit. As I glanced around the room, the one that was once mine and whose walls hold so many secrets, I was filled with such emotion that it was almost too much to bear. The dress, the bed where my lovely mother sleeps alone most of the time, the photos of Grandma and Grandpa, old paintings from my art classes, photos of Mom and her new husband, the closet where I used to sit and knock on the wall using the code my sister and I made up, the bedroom furniture that Mom and Dad gave me in the 10th grade that I was so so proud of, the walls I painted when I lived at home for a semester between college transfers, the poster on the door that has been there since I was ten.
It was all too much.
I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. I had to finish sorting through the mess in the next room, not to mention I was using Mom’s fancy washing machine to finally launder our comforter.
So, I put on my big girl panties. I hung the dress back up, after debating over whether or not to take it with me and then deciding that it was probably safest at Mom’s. Jumpy/biting poodle + long hanging dress = disaster and possible dead poodle. Juuust kidding. Sort of.
I zipped the garment bag, making sure to stuff my feelings down in it before closing it all the way, and I finished my little afternoon project. I know Mom was happy to have a lot of that stuff cleared out, and the Campus Ministries group on campus will be happy to have 7 bulging trash bags full of fund raising yard sale merch. Yes, I said merch. All the cool kids are doing it.
Moral of the story: Sometimes it is good to rip off the band aid and get it over with, but sometimes (every now and then), it is oh so good for your soul to deeply feel each little hair get slowly tugged at.