My husband and I spent hours cleaning the basement yesterday. I should preface this by saying, the basement is where all the things we’ve collected over our multiple moves go to die a slow death by suffocation. Boxes upon boxes, trinkets upon trinkets. Visual clutter brings out the worst of my anxieties and pessimistic tendencies. I say things like “We’ll never make a dent in this! It’s a nightmare! I hate everything! I married a hoarder!” I think I need a counseling session to recover. I know my marriage almost did.
In the course of our purge, throughout which I cursed myself and my abiding love for knick-knacks that serve no earthly purpose, we came across the suitcase I used to store my wedding dress. That’s right, I store a custom-made, peau de soie wedding gown in a tired green suitcase. Seamstresses everywhere may need a whiff of smelling salts. I brought it upstairs and discovered that, at some point during one of our moves, the packing company felt my dress needed some company. So, they added a few christmas lights with the muddy stakes still attached.
Outrage. Name calling. Deep breathing.
On realizing the muddy stakes hadn’t caused damage, I recovered from my blinding rage, and began to unfold layer after layer of white tissue paper. They made a crumply sound as I lifted each sheet, revealing my wedding gown after eighteen years of quiet waiting. I held it up, thinking of all the promise wrapped up in this bit of silk and lace. Each thread and knot and pearl a deposit on our future, on vows made, the whole of a marriage sewn together with a single promise.
I slipped it on, and twirled in front of my husband, and his eyes lit up just like they did on our wedding day. It felt sacred somehow, like the dress was our Ebenezer, a memorial to God’s faithfulness to us over the years. We laughed and took photos and I tried to remember what it felt like to fit into a bodice the size of a thimble. We decided to surprise the kids, so my husband threw on his tux and we marched down the stairs amid peals of laughter. The kids all agreed–we grow increasingly weird in our old age.
We stood in the living room surrounded by everything we love, everything we’ve built for eighteen years. Our three kids and our home and the memories they hold, as countless and bright as the stars in the night sky. By the grace of God, my man kept his promise and I kept mine. And this dress, with its trails of pearl and lace, is a symbol of our commitment, and every good and imperfect thing we’ve experienced along the way.
Do you still have your wedding dress? What kind of memories does it unfold in you?