On lace, and loss

So there I was, scrolling through Amazon to find a dress suitable for my daughter to receive the body and blood of Christ in.

Because of The Thing We Are All Tired of Talking About, her First Communion was delayed a year, and I suddenly realised the lovely, very suitable dress all her older sisters had worn won’t fit her. With little time to spare, we started online shopping.

“Let’s see if we can find something a little bit old fashioned, you know what I mean?” I suggested gently.

I have seen some of the monstrosities out there: First communion dresses that look like slinky club wear; first communion dresses that look like not even wedding dresses, but wedding cakes, bristling with ruffles and petticoats and little sprays and fountains of fabric.

I wanted my child to wear something pretty and special, but also tasteful and maybe even demure. Something that would signal to her that it was a significant occasion, but not something that would make her the center of attention, because that honor ought to belong to Jesus.


We didn’t buy that one. We did buy one with butterflies and sequins on it, though. It’s not demure or tasteful, but she loves it to death, and as long as the Chinese factory doesn’t screw up the order, it should arrive on time. And that’s that.

This is what happens, more and more. I still have standards, but I give them up so easily. I let go of the things that once seemed to matter so much, and it barely makes a ripple in my conscience.

It’s not just the strain of trying to shop with one particular kid; it’s the cumulative strain, the decades-long piling-up of aggravation and compromise and defeat and loss that wears you down, until suddenly you realize that the things you were super hung up on are only as important as so many rhinestone butterflies fluttering on the cape on a nine-year-old’s shoulders, and the only thing you should truly be pursuing is the sweet, sweet relief of being done with a task so you can get back to the things that really matter, such as going to bed.

Is this wisdom, or is it giving up? I truly do not know. If you wanted to illustrate my mid-40’s, you’d just have to draw a fist letting go, over and over and over again.

So many things being let go, if not forcibly removed from my grasp: Trivial things, and heavy things, silly things, precious things. Things that felt vital and irreplaceable for decades, only to reveal themselves as disposable, and not worth replacing.

I hope I’m not the first one to break this to you, but life is very fleeting and full of loss, and if you deal with its fleetness by grabbing on and trying to hold it back, you’ll just end up hurting yourself. Better to relax into the speed.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly

Image by liyinglace via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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2 thoughts on “On lace, and loss”

  1. It’s a gift somehow. To learn how to let go.

    I hold on to my sense of what I prefer, or find more beautiful, but it has helped me to be more open to their insight and sense of what is beautiful. I can honestly say that they have elevated my taste, and joy in what is different than if I had stayed where it is safe.

    My little girl walked to CVS last week with her new bestie. They came home with bleach and scarlet red hair dye. I wanted to say “no!” but didn’t. I really wanted to say no. I didn’t help until she asked for it.

    It turned out better than I thought it would. She dyed her “curtain bangs”. I didn’t know what curtain bangs were until she told me.

    I panicked for a minute when I first saw it, but I saw the change in my daughter. She was thrilled. Being away from her friends for Covid had hurt her and her relationships, but a bunch of her old friends said a bunch of nice things to her. She needed to hear those things, and not from her Mom. I know it sounds superficial, but I have had to learn over and over again that I am not the end all be all of taste anymore.

    Guess what? They value my opinion more now. Once I told them “do whatever you want” (in all things except sin!) They knew I wasn’t bluffing. I was too tired to bluff.

  2. Let’s call it wisdom, shall we? I know the feeling of all those so important things from years ago are like dust now. I blame the past year for exposing it more- being ground down to the last bit. And maybe we have to experience loss of big and little things to realize that a lot of our concerns in the moment mean little in the long run.
    However, a night with some sleep sounds good too.

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