When you look at this nightdress you probably see nothing but an old dress, nothing special about it, perhaps only good enough to be thrown out – perhaps that is what it is. I do not presume to dictate what you see, but let me tell you what I see in it.
When I look at this dress I see love, the purest form of love that one has ever seen. I see comfort, the snuggly feeling of being in your mother’s arms while she tells you a story about her childhood. I also see pain, pain of losing something or perhaps someone so dear to you that it shatters the bedrock of your very being.
When I look at this dress I see my mother. This was my mother’s nightdress. It was never an extraordinary nightdress, it wasn’t even one of her favourites; in fact it was one of her old ones that she decided to gift me with. There wasn’t a particular reason for her to give me this dress, she just did. I wasn’t even thrilled by it either as it wasn’t what one would call beautiful. I only took it because I didn’t want to hurt mom’s feelings.
Strangely, over the course of a mere week it has come to mean a lot to me. It turned from being an ugly, ordinary nightdress to being my most prized possession, the last gift I ever got from my mother before she left me in this unkind world.
This world may be unkind, but this dress has turned out to be my comfort through the nights when I’m all alone and the pain is drowning me in its depths, it has turned out to be my life-vest, or perhaps my life-dress, keeping me from drowning in the deep sea of sorrow and pain.
Some nights it is a hug of comfort, snuggling me with pride when I have defeated life’s little challenges. I feel it envelop me in its embrace, encouraging me to never give up just as mom would have.
Other nights it is an enemy of mine – I can’t look at it, let alone wear it. When it reminds me of one of my greatest losses, when it reminds me of the night I woke up to a forever silent mother next to me. When guilt chips away at me for not hearing her silent cries when death was stealing her. I look at the dress and pain envelops me because I wore it that night. I wore this nightdress snuggled next to her as sleep stole me from the last moments of my mother’s life and the very sight of it shatters my soul.
Despite it all, this dress is very special to me. It holds bittersweet memories. It is the only thing I have left of my mother that was a gift. It is my mother when all else fails.