I bought a dressing gown last weekend.
Maybe some people buy dressing gowns all the time; perhaps they have a selection of them in their walk-in wardrobes. A summer one, a winter one, a holiday one.
I have just one. One I’ve had for a long time.
It was green and full length. One of those towelling ones. Not a nice silk one. A practical one. It has lasted me a long time. Cold Wellington student flats, our first cold English flat, our second cold English flat, our cold Australian winters, and our warm Danish apartment. Many many night wakings, up and down hallways to children. And now it was looking decidedly frayed.
Frayed is an understatement. The shoulder had a huge hole. Disgracefully big.
I bought a new one. Another practical one. Turquoise.
It is funny the things that stick in your memory. I remember buying my old dressing gown. I bought it at Farmers in Lower Hutt. I bought it with my mother.
I must have been about 16. My mother took me shopping to buy a good dressing gown that would last a long time. Thanks to surgery that required checking if my growth plates had fused already, I had had the disappointing news I was going to remain the shortest member of my family. So there wasn’t any danger we’d buy something I’d grow out of.
I think 17 years is good going for a dressing gown.
My mother would be the first to laugh and say ‘it was a just a dressing gown’. But she’d also give me one of those little side hugs, not a big cuddle, but a squeeze from next to me. Throwing her arm over my shoulders and giving my arm a rub while she did it. I do miss those.
Life has a funny way of just keeping on going. We keep going and, as is normal and natural, we collect experiences. We change in subtle ways, and big ways. My life has changed in some very big ways in the last two years. I never would have predicted being where I am today. My mother would never have predicted it.
Our lives were threaded together in complicated, beautiful ways. Now I have to manage without her. A new dressing gown feels like the fraying of one more thread. Another tie dissolved. It is sad, but it is also normal and natural and healthy.
Nobody wants to end up like Miss Havisham.
So we cut the ties and dust the cobwebs away. I keep her with me in other much more important ways. But this week, in which we mark two years since her death, when I hung that new dressing gown on its hook, it crossed my mind.
I felt it pull at my heart. I heard the thread snap.