Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The pink shirt

I bought the pink shirt sometime in the spring of 2008.  I remember one of my students commenting on how nice it was (and receiving a compliment in a classroom full of social/emotional/behavioral disorders was a far less frequent event than being cussed out and having a chair flung at you).  That student said it was the style now, which is actually even more amusing, partly because it was a maternity shirt.  None of my students knew I was expecting (for good reason).

The pink shirt at my baby shower before the fire
The v-neck shirt is a rich, bright pink that brightens my entire skin tone.  There is a wide band that sits right under the bust line, tying in the back like many of the older style maternity shirts.  It then flows out a bit at the bottom.  It was my favorite maternity shirt, which is probably why I was wearing it that first day of school, August 25.

I didn't know it would be the only shirt I owned that day that I would ever wear again.

That night, the pink shirt absorbed the smell of smoke, carrying it with me even after we escaped the imminent danger of the fire.  It was only because of some intense Arm and Hammer detergent and the diligence of my very good friend that the shirt was ever wearable again, honestly.  

And I did wear it again.

I wore it frequently in those weeks after the fire because it was the only shirt I actually owned.  Because I was due so soon after the fire, I mostly borrowed maternity clothes.  It seemed silly to buy a wardrobe that would last for a month.  Some clothes were donated, but they still didn't feel like mine.  The pink shirt was it.  

And shortly after Kellen's birth, it was packed away, folded neatly into a Rubbermaid container and stored in the garage, first at the rental and then more permanently at home.  

I've looked at it a few times in the last three years, usually when I was sorting through baby things to figure out what to donate.  It would not be given away, probably ever, even if a moth destroyed it.  The pink shirt was one of only a handful of things (STUFF) that tied me to me life before.  

When we found out we were expecting again, I pulled out the maternity clothes box and stared at the shirt.  Would I ever be able to put this shirt on again?  And even if I did, would I get through the day without the constant reminder of that night?

The answers?  I have worn the shirt.  I hesitated the first time I put it over my head.  But I wore it.  (And ironically enough had lunch with that same very good friend who told me she was surprised I kept the shirt.)  But even though I've become a little more desensitized to the immediate emotional toll the shirt takes on me, I still do think about that night every time I hold it in my hand, every time I hang it up in the closet, every time I pull it over my head.  It's as though the shirt asks, "What would life had been like if August 25 hadn't happened?"

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