The Sweater Dress of Death

Me, my sister (Ashley), mother, brother (William), and brother (Justin) at our maternal grandfather's funerary wake.

Me, my sister (Ashley), mother, brother (William), and brother (Justin) at our maternal grandfather’s funerary wake.


Reader, I see meaning in many things where others might not but often stop short of attributing happenings to the mysterious workings of supernatural things. I’m more likely to explain to you that simply not knowing the cause of something isn’t enough to claim a miracle has happened. However, what you’re about to read hits close to home and even if we say there’s nothing fancy that happened here, it still gives me some goosebumps.

Just two days prior to my birth mother’s two-year death anniversary, I have decided to move forward with a craft idea which I intended to use as Xmas presents. (To be clear: I’m NOT in the habit of crafting Xmas gifts.) The idea came to me months ago from my sister, Ashley, as something we could maybe do to make sentimental pillows (or pillow cases) from our dead mother’s clothes. She showed me a video of someone who did it with a shirt and said she liked the idea… So I thought I’d do that for her for Xmas.

After our mother’s death and the sorting out of her belongings, I managed to find myself with about five bags of her clothing and purses, etc… which were destined for Goodwill because everyone else had picked through them and not wanted those items. A month or two ago I went through them very quickly and grabbed about six garments which I set aside for the day I found myself with time and motivation sufficient to make the memorial pillows. To do this I enlisted the help of my friend Herbert and my sister-in-law, Domonique.

We went to about six stores in the Castleton, Fishers, and Noblesville areas before finding the right variety of pillows at the right price. We got a late dinner at a Chinese buffet and then finally came home around 6pm which is when the pillowing started, and is when things got a little weird.

We were sorting out the pillows, setting up the sewing machine, gathering the articles of clothing which had been my birth mother’s, and we were talking a little about my birth mother. Domonique was sifting through the garments and I was noticing that she was was giving more attention to a black, knitted sweater dress from the pile when suddenly she mentioned that she had never met my birth mother in person and, in fact, she and young William had only known each other for about two months prior to the woman’s death. As Dom mentioned some things, mostly pointing out how little she ever learned about my mother and how little William is willing to speak of her, she sprinkled in mention of having had a single dream wherein my mother came to her. I didn’t ask much about it at first but after she brought it up a few times I asked.

She explained that sometime after mother’s death and before she and young William were married, mother came to her in a dream. She said mother was very pleasant and nice (which still has me scratching my head) and that she gave them both dance lessons for their wedding. (SideNote: This is of particular interest to me because of the very little dreaming I do and which I can remember, one recurring dream deals with the women of my family dancing, in a kind of tribal manner) Dom mentioned mother was wearing a long, simple, black dress like one she’d seen mother wearing in a photo – really the only photo she’d ever seen of our mother. (I’ve included that photo here.)

By this time our attention had moved onto making a tie blanket and so we weren’t focused on the pillows or mother’s garments. We talked a little more about mother and I filled Dom in on some things about my mother and we talked about how a gesture like wedding dance lessons would have been wholly uncharacteristic of the woman – but that perhaps, on the other side of the veil separating life and death, things are entirely different. We finished the tie blanket and moved back to the garments and pillows.

Our decision was that we’d make one simple pillow for Dom’s husband, my brother William, and then we’d take Dom back to her home. Dom expressed that, of all the garments to choose from, the simple black sweater dress was her preference. It was around this time that our conversation returned to mother and more specifically to Domonique’s dream. I forget now exactly how the conversation led us, but the next thing I knew it had dawned on me that it was very possible that the dress on the table right then was the very dress in which mother wore when she visited Dom in her dream and would also make it the dress worn in the only picture of mother Dom had ever seen – coincidentally the only photo I’m aware of which contains my mother and all her children in one shot, and which was taken at my mother’s father’s funeral.

As we all got goose bumps, I grabbed my phone and pulled up Facebook to sift through pictures there until I found THE photo Dom was referencing as the only image she had seen of my mother. Sure enough it was the photo from my mother’s father’s funeral and the only one I know of with all of us together. And sure enough it was the dress she wore in the dream visitation, and sure enough it was the dress on my table right then that was about to be made into a pillow for Dom to take home that night!

Whew! Reader, I’m sure this story has thoroughly underwhelmed you. But the coincidence of it all was a bit spooky to us. That dress was something I think none of us knew our mother to wear hardly ever. In fact, her father’s funeral is not only the only time I think we all were in the same photo together, but also the only time I know her to have worn that dress. That event was also the second-to-last time Dom’s husband, my brother, saw his mother alive. Knowing, too, that of all her belongings which were sorted out among the family, that dress managed to not be taken by anyone but rather went first into my sister’s possession, then into my own possession where it stayed in a bag in my garage for over a year and almost went to Goodwill – before I decided to go finally through with the idea my sister brought to me of making pillows from the clothes of a loved one. And then as I sorted through 5 bags of clothes to have randomly picked THAT dress from among her garments as one of only a few to keep, and then that very dress to be the one Dom felt subconsciously drawn to which is also the dress my mother wore when she appeared to Dom. What do you suppose are the chances?

It makes for a very weird feeling, especially so close to her death anniversary.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti


One response to “The Sweater Dress of Death

  1. I would agree that its not “miraculous” and whatnot but given what you said about how on the other side of the veil “people” could be completely different than they were here, who knows, it could represent an attempt to reach out and make amends. But that is just one explanation. Dom had only seen one pic of your mom and she was wearing that dress. Therefore if she dreamed of her, I suppose it adds up that is the exact form she came in. Still spooky for the dress to show up right in front of her again though.


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