Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Black Dress

I wrote this several months ago.  A post from a friend brought it to mind, so I thought I would share.  

The black dress has been sitting my closet for years.  I bought it one day when I was out marathon bargain shopping with my mother.  It fit well, was a great deal and I figured I could use it someday.  Over the years I would pull it out, but it never was quite right for any event.  The crepe fabric made it too dressy for daytime, and the demure cut wasn’t generally what I wanted for an evening outing.  So the black dress has never been out of the closet. 

I have lived on the planet for four decades and have never been to a funeral service.  There are many reasons.  It starts with my mother’s aversion to funerals after her beloved grandmother died.  Our extended family was far away, so we didn’t travel back when someone passed on.  The concept of going to ‘pay your respects’ was just not part of our family culture.  The biggest reason that I have never been to a funeral however, is because no one I have ever been truly close to has had one. 

Until today.

I have known Patrick since the first grade.  We lost touch after high school, but over the last two years we became close again.  We had many conversations about everything and nothing.  Patrick had battled brain cancer seven years ago.  He had surgery, chemo and was in remission.  Then in January, he suffered a seizure.  The cancer was back.  This time it took hold and would not let go.  My friend died on Saturday. 

So today, I donned the black dress, which happens to be just right for a funeral.  A very grown-up dress for the little boy I played chase and compared scraped knees with.  I made it through the service without coming completely unglued, and celebrated a life that touched many along the way.  I saw people I had not seen in years.  There were tears, smiles and hugs.  We all assured Patrick’s family that his humor and kind heart made an impact on everyone he came near.

Now the dress will go to the cleaners and then make it’s way back to the closet.  From now on, I won’t look at it and wonder if I will ever wear it.  The dress now has a purpose.  It is my sincere hope I won’t wear it again for quite some time.

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