This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day with a series of love letters. Next is Daisy Florin. my last innocent yearwill come out tomorrow.
Two months after my mother died, I got engaged. The timing was bittersweet. While she was happy to be married to the man her mother loved, she also felt a great sense of loss.
I didn’t acknowledge it at the time. Instead, determined to get over my grief, I jumped into the wedding preparations. I had already lost so much, and curtailing what was promised to be a happy occasion was not something I wanted to consider. I didn’t say this well.) The wedding has begun.
People came out of the woodworking shop to help me. A family friend had an engagement party. My aunt and cousin hosted a bridal shower and her friend’s mother brought tea in my honor. And when it came time to go dress shopping, there was her future mother-in-law, Annette.
If you need to go fancy dress shopping in the aftermath of a personal loss, stop here and I highly recommend Annette.
Annette isn’t shy about going to the dressing room and helping you pull off zippers, straps, or tags. She’s happy to track shoppers and sizes, negotiate prices, and her opinions, given her affectionately, are honest. If not, she’ll let you know too.
A few months before our wedding, Annette watched me try on dozens of dresses in Tristate area shops, from Soho boutiques to Long Island strip mall stores. While everyone else tiptoed around me to make sure I was okay, Annette went straight to Kleinfeld’s changing room and adjusted my bra.
She didn’t show it, even though she probably felt uncomfortable taking on the role of mother. was. not my marriage weddingI had never been to my mother’s wedding, nor had we ever discussed anything, even abstract things, including mine. We got married at the Swedish Town Hall in Sweden, where my mother was born. According to my father, the ceremony took place in her two languages for five minutes, followed by a dinner party for her less than ten people. Her mother wore a lace mini dress that she made herself. So, with bridesmaids, a live bar, and a six-piece band, it’s hard to tell what she did at my wedding in New York City.
But Annette was unabashedly thrilled with it all and, as a mother of three sons, was especially happy to go dress shopping with me. I didn’t have enough money to buy one, so I had to borrow the wedding dress. was
I was happy to have her on the ride with me. Annette was always fine, never sad or pessimistic, she never asked me, “What would your mother think about this?” If I had her, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. If she thought there was something strange about having a big wedding so soon after her mother’s death—I don’t think she did in the slightest—she never said it. And if she suspected I was avoiding my grief by focusing on necklines and bustle, she fully allowed me to do so. didn’t bring her complicated mother-daughter body issues into the dressing room with her.
Annette also taught me how to move around in the world. A few months after I started looking, I long credited her Island store and purchased her Illusion Neckline Ivory Dress. But when I returned to Annette’s house, I began to have second thoughts.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I don’t know much about dresses,” I said in a quiet panic.
She picked up the phone and tapped softly on the keypad. “This is Annette Florin,” she said as if waiting for a call. She then said I had changed my mind about the dress and would kindly cancel the order.
I couldn’t believe what I witnessed. The idea that you can say what you want or don’t want to say without explanation or apology? It was a revelation. that’s it? I thought. can you do that? yes. You can do it.
I finally found my dress at a boutique in Soho. This is a white A-line gown with a beaded bodice and spaghetti straps. At one of the fittings, Annette thought she was missing something.
“Don’t laugh,” she said. “But what about gloves?”
The clerk walked in and out with a white glove that went up to his elbow. I was skeptical, but don’t you know? they were perfect.
“How much is that?” I asked, calculating how much this finish would cost.
Annette sat down on a settee, gestured to the clerk, and said in a whisper on stage, “I think it’s gift time.” (Translation: “This girl spent a fortune in your store. Why don’t you throw in a pair of gloves for free?”) The clerk paused, nodded and smiled. And just like that, 80 The gloves sold for dollars were mine.
I was stunned. Gift time? I wouldn’t have asked for gloves as a gift in millions of years, and yet I probably would have walked down the aisle in a dress with a fantastic neckline. I may have worried that I might think I was a person.But Annette had a way of asking questions that made you want to say yes. sheShe was doing it for me.
Ken and I got married almost a year after my mother passed away. I ignored my father’s certainly reasonable advice not to make a big deal about my wedding and did the exact opposite. When I greeted over 100 guests, I worried that I made a mistake. Maybe this is what my father wanted to protect me from. But then, when I saw Annette shimmering like a disco ball in a silver off-the-shoulder gown, I realized that I didn’t need to apologize for the wedding, sadness, or anything else. There was no need to aggravate the loss with a fancy wedding. In fact, I could do whatever I wanted.I wouldn’t buy a dress, send it back, or have a wedding that was a little overdone. It didn’t have to start that night.
Spinning around the dance floor in a white taffeta gown (and elbow-length gloves), it became clear that life was such a series of events. Overexposed photo. Yes I have lost something, but I have gained something too – the understanding that there are people willing to pick me up when I am hurt, not just my husband, especially Annette It was a gift.
Daisy Florin I am a writer who lives in Connecticut with my husband and three children. She is the recipient of the 2016 Katslinger Fine Her Writing Her Fellowship at Sarah Lawrence Her College, and from 2019 she was also a Fellow of the 2020 Bookend Novel Revision Fellowship. her novel, my last innocent yearcoming out this week.
PS 11 Do’s and don’ts at a wedding and what it’s like to meet your in-laws.
(Photo by Melissa Millis Photography/Stocksey.)