Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A New Dress

We drove into Macon today to get Granny her new dress.  When Mandy was here yesterday, she couln't understand why we just didn't get something out of her closet.  Granny had lost quite a bit of weight and nothing would fit, but even if she hadn't, we would have done it anyway.  She would want a new dress.

She was Down-Home Country, a woman who worked hard and didn't shy away from hard work, but she was a woman who liked to take care of herself, too.  She loved "purty" clothes and jewelry to go with it, loved to go to the "beauty shop" and get her hair done, loved to put on her make-up, to look good and smell good.  She would have wanted a new dress.

As I got ready to go, visions of what seems like the kazillions of times we got ready to go to Macon went through my mind.  There was a phrase she used to say every time as I would pass her in the hallway, either before or after she got herself ready, and it frustrates me that I can't recall it.  She was always ready first and would be waiting in her recliner in the den.  Without fail, I would walk in, and she would smile and say in her Southern twang, "AlrightLook out, now!!" and I'd laugh at her and off we'd go, traveling the expanse of country highway to Macon, country music playing.

I get myself ready this morning in the same pink bathroom I've gotten ready in so many times and it's hard to put my make-up on because the tears are so close to breaking through.  I'm shaky today and walking a fine line, trying to maintain composure.  I try to push away the thoughts of what we're doing, pushing them away, pushing down the tears, the thoughts, the memories that hurt.  Now's not the time.

Driving down that familiar highway, my thoughts keep taking over until someone says something that jars my mind back to where it should be.  I say a prayer of thanks for the friends who have said they're praying for me because I know their prayers are getting me there safely.

We get to Macy's and walk inside ~ begin to look for just the right dress, but nothing seems right.  And it has to be just right.  A sales associate comes up to us and asks Mama what we're looking for.  After a slight hesitation, she tells her and she shows us several dresses......one of which is quite beautiful and we can't put down.  It's perfect for her, feminine, but not too feminine, dressy and classy.  I can picture her in it and the tears try to escape, so I walk away to distract myself and hear my phone notify me of a text.  It was from my precious friend, letting me know she was thinking of me and praying for me right that moment.  God's timing is perfect.  We ask the associate to hold it for us so that we can walk through the mall and continue to look, just to be sure.

Walking out into the mall, I'm hit with instant pain in my chest as I take into view the mall I haven't been to in so many years, but it's so familiar to me.  I don't even know how many times I've walked this mall, but as we walk through it now, I can see us walking through it together, sometimes for something specific, sometimes just to get out and spend time together and have a good time.  In my  memories, the mall is always crowded, eager shoppers there for some huge sale just like we were.  Now, it seems so empty....many of the stores have closed and relocated to a newer mall across town and it makes me sad.  There's not a thing wrong with this mall, it's very nice & beautiful and I hate to think of it not doing well because I want it to always be here. 

We  make our way through, looking and making a few purchases as we go.  I glance down the mall and see one of the major department stores closed.  "Is that Sears?", I ask and my mama says, "Yeah....good ole Sears is closed up".  I'm instantly gone, back in time so many years, to a shopping trip.....just me and Granny.  It was summer, and I was spending the week with her.  This was the day we went to town; she wanted to buy me a new dress.  I remember walking beside her, happy as a clam, when she looked down at her wrist and panicked when she didn't see her watch on her wrist.  Pawpaw had given it to her......he had passed away years before, and it was precious to her.  She was so upset, the more we retraced our steps and didn't find it.  We finally made it back to Sears, back to the Pretty Plus section of the children's department {I was quite the chunky monkey for several years}.  We were about to give up, about to leave with her so upset, when I saw it.  It was underneath a rack of dresses and our day was saved.  I don't know how many times I heard her tell that story.....the story of How Jill Found Her Watch.  "Good ole Jill', she'd say.  "I don't know what I would've done without her".

Fastforward many years, and at another trip to the Macon Mall,  I lost my engagement ring.  We didn't find it, and I had to go home and tell my fiance what I'd lost.  The fact that I didn't have a pretty ring on my finger bothered Granny so much, that on our next trip up, she handed me that watch that she loved so much because my PawPaw had given it to her.  She wanted me to take it to a jeweler and have the diamonds in it made into a ring for me.  I wear those diamonds on my left hand now......it represents not only my commitment to my own marraige, but her sweet love for me and legacy of strong love Granny & PawPaw had for each other.

We walk a little more and I'm constantly alternating to feeling in control and losing control, pulling the reigns tighter and tighter on the dam that I'm trying to keep up.  We pass the food court, and the Wendy's that used to be on the corner is gone.  Mama and I would change up where & what we ate, but Granny always got a Wendy's single with chesese, small fries and a coke.  Every single time.

We ended up going back to Macy's and purchasing the first dress we saw.  As mama stands in line, she tells me how beautiful the casket is, how much it cost but it didn't matter because Granny deserved the best, and mentions that she didn't even look at the price of the dress.  "Doesn't matter", she said.  "She never gave us anything but the best, and the best is what she's going to have".

It's true.  Only the best for those she loved.

I walk away again, pretending to look at clothes while she waits and pays......this is so hard.  My sweet girl walks up and says, 'I love you".  She keeps telling me she loves me, which is unusual for her.....to say it this much.  She sees me hurting and wants to do something.....it's the only thing she can think of to do. 

Thank you, Lord, for my sweet baby.

We're almost done, almost through with this trip.  I walk back towards my mama as the sales associate hands her the dress and her receipt, saying something about "in case it needs to be returned".  As we walk to the car, mama says, "I think it's going to be kind of hard to return it".  She's killing me with these things she keeps saying and I say a prayer, thanking God that I have my sunglasses on.

This day has been so difficult.  It's raining now, and I read again through several texts that came in today from my closest friends.  I wonder if they know how much it matters to me.....that they've prayed for me,  thought of me and cared enough to send them...... to try to love on me through the miles.  So much like family, I wish that they were here with me.  They get me.  They would know what to say to me, but wouldn't have to say anything.....just their being here would help.  They understand what I need most and would surround me with hugs and prayers, would comfort me with their sweet presence and reminders of God's love and faithfulness.

I check my email and make my way through so many thoughtful messages from so many other sweet and precious friends.....the Lord encouraging me and loving me through each one.   Most from friends in Jacksonville, and then a few that surprise me.  People sending me messages through the contact section of my blog,  people that I don't even know, that are reading the posts, telling me they are praying for me and my family, telling me of their own recent or not-so-recent losses, offering me comfort through their words and thanking me for posting about my journey through this.  I'm amazed at how Christ can and will use anything and everything for His Glory.  Who would've thought that writing about my pain because I don't know how else to deal with all my thoughts would cause someone to thank me??

I don't want to face what we have to do tomorrow, and what we have to do on Thursday....my breathing gets shaky and a panicky feeling takes over when I think about it......this hurts so very much.  But I know the Lord is with me, every painful step of the way......I don't know how people do this without Him.

  "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
                                    ~ Deuteronomy 31:6 ~

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