Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Say Yes to the Dress!

Let's talk wedding dresses.

They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Sparkles or no sparkles. Lace or no lace. Long, short, flowy, clingy, ballgowns, a lines and so many other choices.

To a woman, a wedding dress is the gown of all gowns. It's the one day of your life when you get to dress like your own kind of princess and get away with it. On a deeper level, the wedding dress is a symbol of purity, of hope for your future, of love, of tradition, of family. 

To me, it was pretty much that.  My wedding dress was 'my dress'.  It was just the right amount of sparkle, of princess, of elegance, of simplicity all rolled into one poofy, sparkly dress. I can even recall very clearly the day that I picked it out.  It was a little over 14 years ago.  I went to a little store in Rexburg, Idaho with my mom and my grandma.  Just them and me. It was a special day spent with women that I admire most in the world. I tried on a few dresses...and then that one.  I had 'the moment'.  Tears and the whole shebang.  All of it.

I also remember very clearly the day that I wore my dress.  We arrived at the Mount Timpanogos temple in the morning and went directly to the bride's room with my mother. I made sure my makeup was okay, checked my hair, I put on my dress and my temple clothes and went to meet my Superman. I remember sitting with him waiting to go into the sealing room and feeling so content and so incredibly happy.

In that moment, that dress absolutely was about tradition, hope, love, purity and family.

The rest of the day is a blur, but throughout the whole day, that dress was about tradition, hope, love, purity and family.

Fast forward 14 years.

I had always dreamed of passing that dress on to my daughter.  I had always loved the idea of it.  My dress was a timeless, classic a line- which will always be in style. I've kept it in the bag in my cedar chest in hopes that a daughter would eventually come along.  And she hasn't.  For some reason, that dress has become less and less of what it was meant to be. It is a reminder of hopes and dreams that will never come true.  It's a reminder of my naivete. And to be frank, it makes me feel like I've let everyone associated with that dress down.

Even as I write this, I know that those words are so untrue. I haven't let anyone down.  I'm a good woman with an amazing husband. It's just...sad sometimes.

As I looked at my dress recently, I felt saddened and ashamed.  Saddened at the loss of the idea and dream of seeing my own daughter wear it one day and ashamed that I've let it sit there for 14 years, ashamed that I'm letting that dress go to waste, ashamed that my beautiful grandma spent so much money on it for one day.

It has recently come to my attention that old wedding dresses are being repurposed to make bereavement gowns for babies who die right after birth or who are stillborn. This is something that is incredibly close to my heart. I have many friends who have suffered this exact thing.  I myself had a miscarriage that I've never quite found peace with. I've struggled with this decision for a year or so.  I've been holding on to this dress that once meant everything to me for 14 years.  It doesn't fit.  It never will fit again I'm sure, and there's no one to give it to. It only seems logical.

But, then, it tugs at my heart strings.  It's my dress. I can never relive those days again and it's the only tangible thing I have left of that day with my mom and grandma. Once it's gone, I can never get it back.  Ever. 

But then my heart gives me another answer....which has really guided my decision. The loss of a child is something that no one should have to suffer.  All their dreams and hopes and love for that baby are suddenly turned into a daily nightmare that you can't walk away from. And in order to ease that burden for that grieving family, a beautifully made bereavement gown is given to them for their child. And it brings it right back to hope, purity, love, tradition and family. 

I believe that families are forever.  I believe that when we get to the hereafter, those of us that have lost babies will be able to raise them. I believe this with all my heart. And how better to show that belief and love and hope for an eternal family than to help another family through their time of need? I can't bring our children back.  I can't make that hurt go away.  I can't wipe every tear of every mother who suffers.  But what I can do is donate my dress, my dress full of love and hope and tradition and purity and FAMILY, to a family that desperately needs those things.

Which is why I've decided to donate my dress.  I've found a semi local organization (as opposed to a larger one that is currently not accepting dresses...) and have now dropped off my dress to a woman with a kind face. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried.  I cried all the way there and all the way back.  I cried for many reasons. I cried for the loss of a dream, mourning my baby, for the pain of a family that I will never meet. I cried for the absolute healing in my own life. I cried because I know that families are forever and that all of us will be able to hold those babies in our arms one day.

 I know it sounds incredibly silly, but it's almost like I am giving my dress to my child vicariously. I know that this isn't a solution for everyone, but for me, it's brought an incredible amount of healing and comfort and peace that I needed badly. It's the first step on the road to acceptance and healing and I, for one, am eager to get that journey started.

Friday, March 13, 2015

An Open Letter to an Awful Man

Almost exactly one year ago, I brought my sweet baby Jack to you. I was terrified.  He was my first cat. He was so very special to me.  I was more frightened than I had ever been.  Ever.  I trusted you. I read reviews online.  I trusted you.
When I finally got in, you took your sweet time coming to see us. You sent your nurse in first.  I was already in tears and incredibly frightened.  She was rude.  BEYOND rude. She took my cat and tossed him on the table.  She wasn't kind, she wasn't gentle.
When you finally got there, you asked me all the questions that she'd already asked.  You told me to stop crying.  You poked him.  You flipped him back and forth.  You hurt told me you weren't...but you did.
And then, you uttered the phrase that has controlled my life.
"You should have brought him in sooner. We maybe could have fixed this."
Then, you told me that I'd have to leave him for tests.  Overnight.  I didn't like that.  You told me I didn't have a choice.  I agreed.  You grabbed him and started walking away.  I begged you to let him keep his blankie so he wasn't scared.  You rolled your eyes at me and took it and told me you'd call the next day.
But you didn't.  I called.  Your receptionist told me to wait, that you'd call me.  And you...didn't. So, I called again.  And again. AND AGAIN.
And finally...I sent my husband in to bring my baby home.  And he did.  You left the port in his paw and told my husband you wouldn't take it out, because we were going to have to bring him back anyways.  You also sent my sweet cat home covered in his own poo, with a dirty blankie.  How dare you?  He was important to me.  How dare you?
I made Tim go back and tell you to take the port out.  Right now.
I gave him the stupid prescriptions you told me he had to take...even though it wouldn't work.  You made me brush the ick out of his fur because you didn't bother to take care of him.  Every time I had to brush dried on poo out of his fur, he cringed.  That's on you.  Not me.
Eventually, we had him put to sleep. It was the hardest thing I have EVER done.  Not because I didn't do what was best for him.   Not because it helped him.  Not because it hurt me, but because YOU, sir, blamed me.  You told me it was MY FAULT.  You told me that I could have prevented it.  YOU did that. The new vet told met there was nothing we could have done.  That cancer in cats is aggressive.  That there was no way I could have known and yet the only voice I hear is yours telling me it was my fault.
And now, we have two cats again and every time they sleep too much or don't eat enough or don't meow the right way, I want to take them to the vet so that they don't die and it's not my fault.  I live in constant fear that I am slowly murdering my pets. I am completely paranoid.  I cry all the time because Jack is gone and even though I know it's untrue, you've made me feel like I killed him.
You did that.
I will continue to make sure that no one takes their pet to you.  That you don't get to do that to some other unsuspecting pet owner.  I am going to trust my gut and stop listening to your weasley little voice in my head.  You are not a nice man.  You are not a good vet and you do not get to win.
I did the best I knew how to care for my sweet pet.  I tried to remember the good things.  And you tried to ruin that.  That's not okay.
I'm going to let my pets live.  I'm going to stop being so crazy overprotective.  I want them to enjoy their lives.  And I want to enjoy them with them.
You lose.