The last time I remember wearing the skirt was almost 12 years ago. I was not quite three months pregnant with my first child. My husband and I were at a birthday dinner for an old friend. I think it was his 35th. We sat in a u-shaped formation where everyone laughed loudly and talked over one another; dishes of Italian specialties spread across the table on steaming, over full plates.
I picked at my pasta merrily. The waistband of the skirt wrapped snugly against my middle; and for the first time I wasn’t worrying about holding in my stomach, just about holding in our secret. I looked around at all the faces animated in happy excitement; people more like family than friend. My cup was void of wine but I felt drunk on love.
I had worn the skirt before. It was one of those items that seamlessly blended into life outside my closet. I wore it to parties and to meetings at work. I wore it to wakes and showers. As time marched on, I wore it less and less. Yet, on the right occasion it would make an appearance. “Can you believe I’ve had this skirt since before I was married,” I’d say and twirl around, so everyone could see how fabulously practical and cute I was, and how it still fit.
Today, twelve years after my last vivid memory in it, I wore it to a funeral.
I sat in the pew, looking down at my hands, and picked at the threads of the skirt that I had noticed were beginning to fray. So many familiar faces surrounded me, there to pay respects to my step-father’s brother, who died too young after suffering with a long illness. We were all older, sad. We looked more worn; the wrinkles beginning to show and in some cases crease from the wear and tear of everyday living.
I listened to the kind, sorrowful words about a good man from his loved ones left behind. I looked in front of me, where two brothers sat and the third now lay. Tears slipping silently, I tried not to think of the dark reality of life and played with a string on the hem of my skirt, trying to pull it off and instead making it unravel even further.
Life just keeps going.
All of these people here are the faces who had been there through the moments; the big ones like weddings and holidays; the small ones like playing a round of golf and having a good pastrami sandwich. They are a comfort that you wear like a favorite tee shirt.
Or an old skirt.
My step-father’s brother is gone, along with so many others, like my friend whose birthday party I celebrated back then. He died just seven years later.
But the skirt is still with me.