The Dress

     Did you ever have one of those “aha” moments, you know, the kind where everything changes for you? Maybe you get out of yourself a little bit, long enough to look at the world through a different lens. The following is something I wrote a decade or so ago:
     As a slightly overweight and very self-conscious thirteen year old, I was having problems finding what had to be the perfect dress for my quickly approaching graduation from St. Joseph’s Elementary School. I finally found a dress that was okay price wise and that I liked. Once on however, it was another story; with its lace overlay I thought that it looked old-fashioned and even worse, the cap sleeves emphasized my not so thin arms. My mom however, liked the dress. She really liked it.
     The graduation came and went. Not so the dress. Repeatedly, over the years, mom would let me know just how pretty she thought that dress had been. And each time I would stiffen, but remain silent. Every time I wanted to say that I only got it because she had liked it so much and we didn’t have much money so I agreed and that really, I hadn’t liked the dress at all.
     Four decades have passed since my graduation. Recently my mom and I were sitting in her car chatting and once again she brought up the dress and how she especially loved that it was pink and lacy. For the briefest of moments I could feel the old resentments start to rise and then something stopped me. This time I did not go back into my thirteen year old head. I paused. I felt the affection in her tone as she told me how pretty I had looked in that dress. And as I looked into her 84 year old face, I saw the child who had grown up in poverty and would never have owned such a dress as this. Graduation was special, and only the best would do for “her” daughter. As I sat there quietly beside her I knew in my heart that that dress was, and will always be, the most beautiful dress in the world.
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