Love, Loss and What I'll Wear

Illustration: OWN Digital

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In the throes of grief, Lashon Daley finds solace in an act of kindness.

Wedding dress shopping was near the top of the list my mother and I made of things we had to do together—things we would do while we could. We had drafted it only partially believing that time was running out. Six months, the oncologist had told her.

I wasn't engaged, didn't have a boyfriend. But I wanted the experience I'd seen on television: stepping into a white gown and seeing in my mother's face that it was the perfect one, the one. I knew it was her dream, too, and I wanted it to come true.

She was weak the morning we went to the shop. She needed help navigating the narrow aisles of white, cream and bone-colored gowns. I left the dressing room swaddled in ivory tulle, but felt light as dandelion fluff. The dress had a sweeping train, a fitted bodice. I felt like a bride. "Mommy, this is the dress," I said. I wanted to run to her like a little girl—like children do when the only person who can comfort them is their mother.

But I didn't have to go to her. With help, she lifted herself from her chair and came over to stand beside me. The saleswoman took photos as my mother nestled close, smiling and playing with my long veil. Two months later, she was gone.

After the funeral, I received a condolence card from my church, whose members had exclaimed over our bridal pictures. Inside was an origami wedding dress made out of a page from Romeo and Juliet. Tucked behind it was a check for a deposit on the dress, a sum pooled by the congregation. "You deserve to have that dress," the pastor's wife had written. I couldn't afford to buy it right then, and anyway, I still had no fiancé. But I called the bridal shop and asked for the dress to be set aside. I put the money into a special savings account and began adding to it, little by little. I go back to check on the dress now and again, looking forward to the day when I'll return to claim it—and to the day I'll wear what my mother helped to choose, her presence and love sewn into every seam.