November 6, 2012

“The Yellow Dress”

I spent seven long years watching my mother succumb to Alzheimer’s Disease. She was
quite a fighter. Near the end, when she broke her long silence, looked at me
and said… “I don’t want to do this anymore”, I knew she was ready to leave us.
I can honestly say I was ready to let her go, believing that wherever she was
going would be better than what she was experiencing in her life here. She died
peacefully at home with her family around her.

After she was gone, I was ready to do what I do – clean out all the drawers, the
closets, the basement, the attic. For me, cleaning up after this long illness
felt like taking some control back. And it felt good.

I was doing well until I got to my mother’s closet – the closet that held the
clothes she wore before she got sick. My mother hated to shop, so I was used to
seeing her wearing the same things – especially for dressy events. She had a dress
style that looked particularly good on her. She had this style dress made a few
times – in different colors. “The Yellow Dress“ was the first – the one that
started the pattern. For me that dress will always be the one that she looked
most beautiful and happy in.

So I cleaned out everything around the yellow dress. I left it in her closet for
another year. By this time it had become harder to let it go because I was starting
to remember her as the person she was before she got sick. The dress was her.
Well, if it was so important to me why was I leaving it in this dark closet?
Maybe I could make it smaller to fit me? If I could wear the dress, how could I
ever forget her? I took it to the seamstress.

It was only when I was standing on the little stool at the seamstress’ shop that I
knew I had to let the dress go. It was huge on me. The seamstress said she
could not make it fit me. I did feel a bit certifiable. I mean I talk to
clients about how to let go of things all the time, and here I was desperately
hanging onto something that had to go.

Before I could give it too much more thought, I took the dress directly to Goodwill. I
realized that to give it the honor it deserved, someone else’s mother would
have to wear it. And just as I had done many years ago, I imagined a child,
gazing up at her mother, beautiful and happy in the yellow dress.

If you’re having trouble letting go of things that have special
meaning to you, remember that it even when you know it would be better to just
let it go, you don’t physically need the object to keep a memory alive.

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