Secret Lives of Dresses Vol. 11

"Oh, honey," is what I want to say. I want somebody to say "oh, honey, I know, I know," to her, and pat her on the back, and bring her a cup of tea. I want someone to hand her a tissue, and I want someone to take her to the movies, and I want someone to understand her as well as I do.

I don't want her to be falling asleep with the radio on, shows she doesn't even like, just because she can't fill up the house with only her own voice. I don't want her to be eating one solitary, unwinking egg, dinner after lunch after breakfast after dinner, just because washing up more than that one pan and that one plate and that one fork is too much for her to handle. I don't want her refrigerator to have only eggs and milk on the verge of turning in it, but I also don't want her to be driving to the next town over to do her grocery shopping, just because she can't face one more too-familiar face screwed up into that "I don't know what to say" grimace. I don't want any of that.

I don't want her to be sitting there, striking matches, just for their sweet sharp sulfurous smell, or lighting one of the cigarettes left in the pack just to watch the lazy arabesques of the smoke as it rises. I don't want her to be setting two places out of habit, and then standing there, staring at the other place. And yet I don't want her to wearily put that other plate and napkin away, either.

I don't want her to stand over the phone as it rings, and then snatch for it just as it stops. I don't want to hear her say "Nothing. I'm fine." to the person on the line, or "Tuesday's not good for me. Wednesday — no, not Wednesday either; maybe next week." I don't want her to pick up the receiver and then put it down again, realizing that there's no number to call.

I don't want her to fold the laundry and then, crying, dump it all back in the basket, furiously unmatching those socks. I don't want her to hang up that coat and then throw it over the back of the chair again, or to move those boots from the doorway to the closet and back, over and over.

I don't want her to pick up the book that was on the arm of the chair, and read the right-hand page over and over again. I don't want her to flip the calendar back to May again.

I don't want her to sit there with that watch pressed against her ear, listening to the ticking. I don't want her turning that lucky piece over and over in her hands.

I don't want her to pass by me in the closet, reaching for that black cotton shirtdress again. I don't want her to jerk her comb through her hair, not even looking in the mirror. I don't want her not to notice that she's wearing two different shoes. I don't want her to notice that other people have.

I don't want her to be so bereft. I don't like that there's nothing I can do. And I especially don't like knowing that there's nothing anyone can do.

I want there to be something to do.

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0 thoughts on “Secret Lives of Dresses Vol. 11

  1. I love, absolutely adore the plisse dress. Of course, right now I’m a sucker for any floral print with chartreuse accents. This frock is the right price but the wrong size! Thank you, too, once again for another Secret Lives….11 is one of my many lucky numbers!

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  2. Ohh… that was so pathetic… that poor lady…and her poor wonderful little dress. I’d like to pat her consolingly on the shoulder and offer her a cup of tea myself… and tell her to put on that happy dress and feel better… though having just lost someone myself I know that that doesn’t always work.

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  3. Dear Lovely Dress:It is hard to be passed over so many times, especially when you were such a favourite and he thought her even more beautiful when she was wearing you. It is also hard to be worn day after day, not because she likes me but because I am convenient and she doesn’t have to make an effort when she puts me on. I have never been to any of the places you have and I miss your stories. What you can do now is wait. And believe. Those are hard and lonely things.Love, The Black Cotton Dress

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  4. I am presently grieving the death of someone dear to me who passed away suddenly in October, and who had been a very big part of my life. So, from that point of view, I can say that in Secret LIves of Dresses #11, you capture very well the sense of what it’s like to experience that kind of loss. I second anonymous of 1:35 AM: Well done!

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  5. I second Oracle’s comment. I lost someone suddenly, many years ago, and you expressed the bereft feeling and bewilderment that accompanies it just beautifully. Thank you for sharing.Especially love the detail of looking at the calendar…

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  6. Yes, very poignant, well written. But, darling, when is one of your dresses not going to be sad and depressed? I like to think that many of them have fun stories to tell.

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  7. A friend of mine recently committed suicide and that story really puts into words all the feelings I have not been able to. Thank you. Please write a happy dress story next…maybe one about a dress coming out of the back of the closet for the first day of Spring. I really like the Koi fabric. It would make such a pretty dress with a full circle skirt. That fabric is just begging to be a dress!

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  8. Ah, once again, you’ve done it! Thank you.As another commenter said, perhaps it’s time for a happy dress – what about the polka dot swing number? The one with the strappy red heels?

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  9. So touching, it took me awhile to compose myself before I left the house this morning. Now maybe a story about a happy dress, one the new Grandma wears when her daughter comes to visit with the baby. One with a lively print that the baby can’t take her eyes off, So Grandma makes one for the baby to wear, from the leftover fabric.

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  10. What a sad and deeply emotional piece. Your stories get better every time.And I don’t know about forcing yourself to write a happy story… you can’t help what the dress tells you to write!I think at least we know that this dress had a happier past, and it cared about its owner!!!

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  11. Absolutely beautiful .. and the book will be fabulous, you just need to hook up with a brilliant illustrator who can bring those dresses to life.Cerys

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  12. This was beautiful, as is the entire series. I’ve been deeply touched by more than one of these; thank you for sharing these with us.

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  13. This could only be written by someone who has suffered her own terrible loss. My 18yo son died Aug 5, 2005 and that is just how it feels. Thanks for writing the words Erin.

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  14. I won the e-bay auction on this dress, and maybe paid a little more than I should have because this story made me feel that the dress needed a loving home, where it would have joy again.When it arrived yesterday, I took it out and examined it. This is a hand-made dress, something that was not noted in its auction description. A real person, like us who gather here with Erin, made this dress. She picked out the fabric for this pattern. Her stitches are visible in the hem and where she put in the zipper. Some seams she used pinking shears on, others not. She was shorter than I, to judge by where the hem hits an odd place just above my knee.The bodice seam is a double curve, making a sort of corset line under the bust. The sash is long enough to wrap to the front before tieing.At the moment, the dress is holding pride of place in my closet. I think it needs black patent pumps.

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  15. So amazing. Every once in awhile I get to read these, and I am just impressed by the beauty and emotion of your writing. Someday I hope you collect them, even if you just go up on lulu.

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  16. My first thought when I saw this dress was that it looked so cheerful. But then I read the story and it was so sad! Count me amongst the ones who teared up upon reading this. *sniff sniff*

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  17. i just happened upon this blog and was delighted to find “Lives of Dresses” and ended up reading every one of them. I loved them all. It is wonderful to come across such talent and entertainment amidst all the garbage that is on the internet. I look forward to reading more of your lovely stories.

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  18. I just wanted to say that I’ve now finished all available Secret Lives of Dresses… I love it. Each one has made me cry a little, feel a little for each dress in my closet, and to want a LOT for you to write a book!!

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  19. Erin, I just found these Secret Lives tonight and I can’t stop reading them. But now you’ve REALLY made me bawl. You have so accurately described my thoughts and actions for the past six months after losing my husband to cancer. It’s comforting and yet a little scary how keyed in you are to someone who’s grieving the loss of a spouse. I didn’t move his shoes from in front of the family room stairs for months. Even now, I only moved them to the laundry room. And my clothes are probably sick of getting passed over for the black ones.

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  20. Very well done. You certainly have talent to spare. Can’t disagree that these dresses seem to have depressing stories to tell, but then, if that what you feel like writing, then that is what you should write. I wear jeans myself. Very enjoyable and powerful story.

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  21. God forbid that I ever feel like that. I haven’t really lost anyone that way yet. But I suppose that someday it will happen. I hope not soon at all. Not for many, many years. Wonderful story.

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  22. All my dresses might feel the same right now. Since my husband died last May 1, 2011, I haven’t worn them; instead I am wearing black dress everyday until next year.

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