THE MILESTONE DAY
I saved my wedding gown just for Raine, my only daughter. No one else could ever wear this dress but Raine.
Bone-colored lace spilled out of the heirloom box, both faded with time. I had worn this same dress twenty years ago. I even put on this dress in this same dressing room in our church.
My own wedding day was nothing more than a blur now. Most milestone days are like that. Tears punctuated my wedding day, just like they did today, like water stains on a window.
Memories flooded my heart with the image of myself as a young bride, blonde hair cascading beneath my veil like a waterfall. I remembered what my young hopes were then. My dreams. My visions of the babies I hoped to have one day. I imagined having a daughter who would one day wear that very gown on her own wedding day. That lady under the veil didn't even resemble me anymore. Twenty years gone.
My now-pale hands clutched at the gown’s bodice, the sleeves, the lace trim. I laid the dress over the full-length mirror. Carefully I pulled out the back seam, altered just for Raine’s special milestone day. Teardrops escaped my eyes and ran down my cheeks as I placed the gown over Raine. Sobbing now, I pulled the sleeves over her slender wrists and narrow shoulders. I fastened the diamonds around her neck. She looked so dainty, so fragile, so unlike any other day in her life.
I recalled Raine’s entire life right there – in a flash of a blink of a moment. The milestones of her life: her birth, the first time she said “Mama,” her first day of school, looking at colleges. Everyone told me how fast it goes.
I wanted to scream, “I wasn’t finished raising her!”
Marla, the lady doing Raine's hair and makeup, said, "I’m almost finished."
I was so consumed in my thoughts, I didn’t even see her come in.
Then Marla said, “I’ll confirm your caterer.”
Beef and chicken. Shrimp puffs and finger sandwiches. Unimportant details.
Raine’s ring finger held her grandmother’s wedding ring – a lone diamond wedged into a little box for so many years. Grandma had meant for Raine and only Raine to wear that ring. I knew how Grandma felt. It wouldn’t have been right for anyone else to wear it, just as no one else could wear my dress. I touched my own ring to my face, the one my grandmother gave me. Traditions kept unbroken.
I looked from Raine’s flawless face, heavy with powder, down to her shoulders and arms. Satin gloves encased her hands. Black traced the outlines of her eyes. Crimson stained her mouth. The herringbone lace veil framed itself around her black hair. The hopes. The dreams. My lips trembled at the sight of my only daughter. She didn't look anything like my baby now.
Just like the day she was christened at this church, all the friends and relatives Raine ever knew came to see her today. They waited outside, limping in pointed shoes, men wearing tight suits, ladies in long dresses.
I wrapped the wedding dress’s long train around one of Raine's arms and tucked her black and red rose bouquet in her other hand.
My husband James knocked on the door and peeked inside the crack. A long sigh flattened his cummerbund. "Time to go?"
How could I ever be ready for this? A sob and a gasp collided in my throat. I ran to James and clasped his hand. We took one last look at our little girl, flowers and satin surrounding her in front of the stained glass window.
Marla dusted off her hands and closed the casket lid to wheel my baby away to the front of the church.
All the hopes and dreams we ever had for Raine slammed inside her casket.
Raine was my only daughter.