The second funeral dress, I made only six months after the first. I knew right away I’d be using fabric that matched the first dress. The butterflies on it were different shades of blue with yellow flowers. The dress style was a little different on top. It had a tank bodice, ties that attached at the side, wrapped around twice, tying in a bow on the front. I sewed a matching hair tie for this one too. I used yellow thread. I wasn’t trying to color coordinate it. I had found a ton of yellow spools of thread in the garage and I used it to sew everything. It didn’t really matter; no one would be looking at the thread.
I did not do the hems as professionally as the first dress; I simply folded them over once and absent mindedly sewed. I stayed up late and alone while I worked on it. The rhythmic hum of the machine was soothing. The fabric edges frayed upon first washing, although you’d never know because they were on the underside. I remember the dress being so much bigger than the first one. The skirt portion was longer. It will take a while for her to grow out of it, I thought. When I look at it now, it is so small and not much bigger than the first one at all.
Like the dress, I appeared bigger, stronger and better put together than I really was underneath. This time I was the one making the funeral arrangements for my daughter’s grandmother. This time, it was my own mother we were burying. She thought she had pulled her back out, really, the pain was cancer.
Cutting is always the worst part. Something about that full stretch of uncut fabric holds so much potential. It’s almost too overwhelming to decide what to do with it. I hate when I finish a project and need to decide what to do with the scraps. I saved as much as I could. The butterflies wanted to be pretty. They wanted to represent joy but there were too many of them. You knew it was unnatural to have so many in one place, over lapping each other. If you squinted your eyes, the butterflies, in their various shades of blue, blurred together to look like an ocean of waves.
I spent the last week of my mother’s life at her house. I debated whether or not to purchase the fabric while she was still alive. If I buy it before she dies, will that mean I have given up hope? Is there any hope left? God can still produce a miracle whether I have the fabric or not. Does this mean I don’t have enough faith to believe in miracles? I bought the fabric in between making the pre-funeral arrangements. It’s cheaper when you make the purchase ‘pre-need’.
Unlike my grandma, mom died at home. I was there, we knew it was coming. It was still a shock in that split-second moment. I was on the phone with my brother, he was dropping off a check payment to the funeral home and there was some issue.
“Dad wrote the wrong amount.” He sounded irritated and tired. He continued on about having to get a new check to them by a certain date to get the discount price.
“Katy!” My aunt sounded frantic. ”It’s happening.” Her voice had this strange pitch I’d never heard before.
I heard myself tell my brother, “Ok. Don’t worry about it,” and hung up the phone. I was surprised by the feeling of fright that suddenly came over me. My mom’s last act of life, was the gasp of death. I put my hand over my mouth to hold back the sob threatening to choke me. I knew she was gone and I fainted without losing consciousness.
I did not make myself anything new to wear. I wore a skirt I had in the closet, black with tiny perfume bottles on it. Everyone asked me if I made it. I also wore a fitted pink cardigan, from my mom’s closet.
Looking for part one?