“I used to change your diapers,” said the stranger to me as I walked up the sidewalk towards the church.
It was my first day at a new congregation and since I had never been there before, I was pretty sure the woman was talking to someone else. I looked around and she laughed. “You don’t recognize me, do you?” she said.
That was the day I met the woman who would, 3 years later, lovingly and painstakingly, sew my wedding dress.
As it turns out, she knew my mother and actually had changed my diapers. Even though she hadn’t seen me in 20 years, she recognized me because my mom and I looked a lot alike.
Yvonne was her name and she became a dear friend for the 5 years or so that I was a part of that little congregation. She was funny and always said exactly what she was thinking, good or bad. But she was kind and generous with a heart full of faith and love too.
She’s the reason I hung onto my wedding dress long after the marriage ended. It wasn’t because I was sentimental about the marriage – he broke my heart in the end, so…
Despite the sad end, our marriage did result in 3 kids and for a while, I thought maybe one of my two daughters would like to wear the dress for their wedding one day. But I realized years ago that wasn’t likely. Styles change so much and they would want to pick their own dress.
Still, I lugged that dress around with me through 8 moves and it’s been shuffled around inside garages, storage sheds, and spare rooms too many times to count. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it. Yvonne made it with such love and care that to donate it or worse, throw it away, just seemed…wrong. Disrespectful. “What am I, chopped liver?” I could hear Yvonne say.
But this last house move was to downsize. Seriously downsize. The kids are grown and gone and we (husband #2 and I) sold our 2900 square foot house and were moving into a 1500 square foot house. If you haven’t done that yet, it feels like you’re pouring your life into a funnel. Only the most necessary items, or most dear, can be kept.
I knew it was time to let go of the dress. It was too out of style to be sold or donated and not old enough to be “vintage”. What was I going to do with it? I couldn’t throw it away. I just couldn’t. Then I read this on Realimprints.org.
There are women who deconstruct wedding gowns and turn them into tiny outfits for babies who have died. They donate the outfits to hospitals for babies that never get to go home. Or they give them to families who have lost a baby not long after birth so they have something handmade with care to bury their baby in.
Reading about it made me cry. But it was just what I was looking for. I knew the love and care Yvonne put into my dress would be recycled into those baby clothes. Different hands doing the sewing, but the same painstaking attention and tenderness. Those tiny souls would be wrapped in love. It was perfect. And it made letting go of my dress, after 28 years, an easy decision.
At first I was hesitant to ship it off somewhere. I thought it would be expensive and, well, a pain. But it was really simple. It was only about $10 to send it through the US Postal Service, through their online service. Just create an account and make sure to measure and weigh the box accurately. You pay online with a credit card and schedule the pick-up from your house. Simple. Lindsey let me know via email as soon as she got it, so I knew it got their safe and sound.
If you aren’t sure what to do with your old wedding dress, please consider this option. One dress could provide clothing for many little babies. It truly is a donation of love.
Story written by: Lori
Visit our Angel Gown Project page for more information on how you can help with this project.