Blue Dress

Soft ribbons of vivid and faded memory

are aroused daily

at home and through windows. I let them

 

Fall freely, familiar

now with the courageous

 

Act of letting go.

Into the fabric of life.

 

Honouring Offering Birthing

 

Death

 

Shades of you I carry forward

Unfolding, stretching, passing

 

Into warm renewal.

Blue Dress was sewn from fragments of fabric cut from the contributions below

Catherine (Kay) Irving – d. 2006 at 93 years old

For almost a year and a half, I visited Kay nearly every week to give her a relaxing foot massage…It was a joy, a privilege, and the unfolding of a beautiful friendship... I loved when she wore this bright turquoise sweater. For a woman her age, I think she felt it was a little risqué, yet it reflected her vibrancy like nothing else she wore. The little row of beads at the neck sparkled like her personality and she stood out like the bright light she was in my life, like the bright light she still is. Kay helped me to see more clearly the light I carry. She taught me a lot about living and loving, and about letting go...because, eventually, there was a last foot massage, a final look from her to me, the passing of her spirit into another light.


Margaret Mossip – d. 2006 at 86 years old

This two-piece blue-grey dress was bought by our mom for her 80th birthday party…The colour looked lovely on her and she was radiant that day…Our mom was a premature baby and they say she weighed around two pounds at birth. She was little (4 ft., 8 in.) but she was a strong and courageous woman in many ways. She wore a button at one time that said "Small but Mighty," and she was...She left us with a profound feeling of being loved. Her death has left a hole that only a mother can fill...We miss her, but her love for us is very much part of who we are as women today.


Phil Thomas – d. 2007 at 85 years old

My memories of my friend Phil date back to when I was probably six or seven, at my family's Christmas party…He was curious about everything and everyone…At Phil's Celebration of Life, a silent auction was held to help raise funds for a memorial bench...I bought his collection of caps. Phil designed and sewed them all himself, to wear when he visited the UBC Library, which was air conditioned. Phil's head was decidedly lacking any natural protection from the cold. The caps strike me as so whimsical, yet utterly practical for their purpose. That's Phil.


Helen Mary McQuarrie (a.k.a. Mrs. M) – d. 1986 at 78 years old

I am sharing the crazy quilt you made me from leftover scraps of my and your dresses, blouses, skirts and pants, which you sewed…The pale blue metallic pieces are my surprise grade 12 graduation dress…the bright green scraps are my bell bottom pants…I see your long remembered house dresses in the flowered cotton scraps...Store bought clothes, like store bought cookies, just weren't the same as homemade ones...Thank you for always loving me and for still being in my memories so I can always talk to you.


Jack Campbell – d. 2002 at 69 years old

As you can see, this shirt is old and worn. That is because for quite a number of years, my husband, Jack, wore it when working around our home…Jack would hang this shirt in our pantry. It was hanging there the day he suddenly passed away with a massive heart attack and has been hanging there until now. It was difficult for me to part with this shirt as it has been a daily reminder that for over 51 years I was happily married to the man whom I grew up with in Toronto...I tell myself that I am not parting with this shirt but sharing my memories of Jack with others.


Christina Sabat – d. 1998 at 56 years old

I remember my mother wearing this scarf with her black winter coat. She would tie the scarf in one fold, flattening it forward, then stretching it sideways, a technique which maximized its visibility. The scarf looked beautiful around my mother's neck. It radiated the same vitality, brightness and originality that was my mother.


Elyse Ann Schultz – d. 2007 at 54 years old

The best reminder I have of Elyse wearing this blouse is at a "slow food" celebration at a nearby organic farm…As always, she looked as vibrant and radiant as the clothes she wore. My wife had great taste for the best things in life. The blouse is blue and so am I...After over 30 years of marriage, you are a team that works together...Ouch, my team has a huge gap in it and it's almost like we have to cancel the game. But we won't...We'll honour her every way we can.


Linda (Lin) Ward – d. 2007 at 53 years old

My wife Lin wore this dress almost constantly the month leading up to her death. She had a very painful tumor protruding from her belly, so she liked to wear things that weren't too tight. The colour of this dress looked so pretty on her...Such a soft, restful shade of blue. Lin died peacefully...wearing this dress...She gave me the gift of allowing me to care for her and just be with her through her dying process. Daily I rubbed her back. I will never forget the smell of that lovely gardenia cream and the soft, loose feel of her skin...My last memories of her are of birds singing quietly out the window, the smell of gardenia, and blue.


Sarah Elizabeth Giroux – d. 2006 at 27 years old

Like a ribbon, you held us all together, softly weaving through our lives. The photo of you wearing your blue turtleneck sweater, while hugging your books and wearing that big warm Sarah smile, is vivid for all of us. This is the piece of clothing that we'll think of you wearing and we wish to share with others. Yes, it was practical but it was also warm and stylish just like you.


Findlay Paterson Bergstra – d. 2006 at 23 years old

This sweatshirt was a gift from Findlay's friends, David and Allison, and one of his favourite items of clothing. As I write this, I am sitting in Findlay's room and thinking of all the memories, associations and attachments that being part of this project has aroused...My son's physical disabilities limited many of his activities. One of the things he could not do was his own laundry...As a consequence, his clothes continued to be as familiar to me as my own. After his death, I simply did his laundry, put away his clothes as I always had, and left them in their accustomed place...Letting go of this object, letting it become part of a renewal and a recreation, will perhaps help me to do the same.


Rebecca Lynne Hardy – d. 2006 at 14 1/2 years old

Rebecca was our first child. We were told on her fifth day of life that she would not likely make it through the night. And while she stayed with us for 14½ years, we had to grieve the loss of the "normal child" from the start…I picked this set of clothing because it is soft like her; she had the softest hands (though a mean pinch when she wanted to get her point across). We had this game: I would say "kisses for Rebecca" and she would extend her hand so I could kiss it...Having a child with a disability is hard and isolating. You lose friends because they can't deal with it...Once the person with the disability is gone you have a really hard time adjusting to "normal life," but it's not normal because you are mourning, and again you lose friends because they can't deal with your loss. Rebecca taught us and so many others so much. She was a bright light and she will be forever missed.


John Sidney Brown – d. 1934 at 14 years old

I hope that by using this sweater of my uncle's, you can set the grief free as it never has been done before. My Uncle John died in 1934 and so I never met him. Because of the way my family responded to his death, I knew only his name and a few particulars of how he died...Some fifty years later, it became my task to go through the family possessions and this is when I found his sweater and a photograph of him, a handmade plane and some hockey cards. He was a handsome, bright and kindly looking boy. I know he played badminton with my mother and sadly for me, this is all I know, and so there is a hole in the fabric of my life. I know a little of the kind of grief that cannot bear scrutiny or expression but there should be a better way to carry on.


Sabrina Anne Shannon – d. 2003 at 13 years old

Butterflies are free and Sabrina can fly. My beautiful Sabrina, I remember the day you bought your pretty blue butterfly t-shirt…It was your favourite shirt. You wore it with your faded jeans and your red, wavy hair falling gently over your shoulders. Humid memories in the fabric Pale T-shirt Dark Blue Butterfly ... Long to hold her close again Felt Sabrina's ribs through Humid memories, blue fabric "I love you."


Jackson Chester David Cornelisse – d. 2006 at 1 1/2 days old

How I miss you my baby boy. Always will. Trying to be strong, to live on…Saving you in my heart keeps me warm, the way your blue hats would have kept you warm.


Rhys Hobbs – d. 2004 prenatal

Even as you grew inside me, I felt your fierce and passionate spirit…When you died inside me my world collapsed. Thank you for coming to me again in a dream. Thank you for offering what comfort you could from that dream space…This blanket was used by your brother when he was born. It should have been yours...I'm doing my best to reach out in the world to share what I know and what I've learned and what we all share in some ways. And that is what you leave for us.