The Dress

For career day in Kindergarten I walked into class pushing a stroller with two dollies in it, holding another baby doll on my hip, and wearing a hawaiian dress with a pillow underneath (I was “pregnant”) because what I wanted to be when I grew up was my mom. She got married when she was 19 and had 5 kids by the age of 30. She was fun and silly, but so loving and tender. She worked harder than anyone I had ever met and never complained. She woke up first and went to bed last (still does). And I wanted to be exactly like her.

When I got married almost 3 years ago, I never even considered wearing her wedding gown. I had obsessed over it as a child, during those few special times that she let us put it on during dress up time, but had somehow forgotten about it throughout my wedding planning process. I did the usual dress shopping, found the “perfect dress”, and wore it on my wedding day. A few months after I got married, we were back home for a holiday and I went looking for something in my childhood room. There, hanging on the door, was my mom’s wedding gown. The light was shining through the window behind the dress and it looked almost heavenly. There was something different about it. I ran my fingers across the ivory fabric and lifted the bib. I instantly noticed roughly cut fabric around the arm holes.That’s right! There used to be sleeves. I thought. Then it hit me. Had she cut off the sleeves hoping I would consider wearing it at our wedding? Had it been hanging here for the months leading up to the wedding as a subtle hint? I couldn’t remember. I felt a pang of regret. Why hadn’t I even considered wearing it, even if just for the ceremony? I touched the daisy (my favorite flower and hers) detail of the veil. The veil! Why didn’t I wear the veil? I replayed my walk down the aisle, but this time, I was wearing this gown, her gown. My eyes welled up when the thought left me, realizing it was not a memory, simply a vision of what could have been.

For the next two years, each time I would see the dress, regret would fill my heart. A few months ago I had an idea: Instead of having an internal pity-party each time I saw the dress, why not do something about it? As we got ready to leave my parents’ home in Central California, I secretly put the dress in my car before we headed back to our home in San Diego. A few weeks later I put it on (more like squeezed into it) and Jacob photographed me in her dress.

I think I will always feel a bit of sadness when I think about the missed opportunity of wearing my mom’s wedding dress, but I also know that creating this memory, these photographs, will be something she and I both cherish forever.

So, Momma, Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for loving me, teaching me, and cherishing me for the last 25 years. You have brought more joy to me throughout the years than anyone else on earth. I love the way that you’re so playful and so humble. I love when people tell me that I look like you. I love the fact that when I get sick I still want my mommy. I love that you have shown me to love Jesus. These photos are a gift from Jakey and me. Know that you are the best mom in the world (I have 4 siblings to vouch for me on that one) and that I love you. Chrissie <3

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