I need you to know that I tried very hard. It is very difficult to be a wife, Jeff, I hope you can do it.
I sold my wedding dress to a guy named Jeff. Actually, my friend helped me sell it to a guy named Jeff because I was too sad. I was getting divorced. I had failed at being a wife. But listen, I got married, then my dad died from colon cancer a few months later. It was not easy breezy, it was the pits.
Sometimes people would say, “Sorry for your loss,” and “How’s being a newlywed?!” in the same sentence.
Or they’d ask, “When are you going on your honeymoon?? You should go!”
I had so many answers in my head:
“I don’t know, maybe after my sister and I go clean out our dead dad’s stuff from his parents’ house.”
“Honeymoon after I help plan and attend three memorials for Dad.”
“Off to Honeymoon City after I get the hang of grief/therapy.”
“Huh, my relationship with my dad was actually very complicated? That’s weird.”
“Honeymoo..oh, um, my butt...hole...is bleeding. Am I dying from what my dad died from?”
“Whew, colonoscopy says my colon is great, but the combination of my butthole and my grief stomach is a disaster. Honeymookay?”
“Honeychrist, couple’s counseling too?”
Sorry, everyone who gave us money for our honeymoon, we spent it on couple’s counseling and we learned a lot. What are needs? Who gets to have them? Everyone? What? I also learned that you have to dress nice for couple’s therapy or else the therapist will definitely blame you. My glaring problem in couple’s counseling, besides my attire, was that I felt like a teenager who was in big trouble with the two adults in the room. My grown-up husband and this woman who charged a lot of money because she values herself and her work. She’s no wizard, though. You know that old saying, “You can lead a dead horse to water, oh no, no no, oh fuck, oh no.”
I moved in with my sister and her husband, because I couldn’t afford my own place and they love me. I moved into the room where my dad died. The hospice room. The room he slept in for his last twenty-two days on earth. Where he sat, but then had to lie down to fill out the rest of his will. Where his daughters leaned over him, dripping a mixture of intentional morphine and accidental tears into his mouth.
I redecorated in the style of youngish, grieving divorcée. Pathetic. Chic. Pathet-chic. But here’s the thing: it’s the same bed. It’s the deathbed, guys. Guys, I sleep in the deathbed and it’s fine. I mean it’s kind of fine. I sleep in the bed my dad died on. That’s how much I hate shopping for a mattress. I weighed the options.
Dad definitely died in this bed.
This is the bed he died on.
There’s no getting around it, he absolutely died on this very bed.
He did not, at any point, take a dump in this bed.
I mean, look at this mattress. It is spotless.
This mattress is free! One dead dad and your mattress is free!
My sister’s guest bedroom is perfect for divorced and dying guests alike.
Very private — for classic divorced moves like 'lying down on the floor to sob/drool into the wood,' and classic dying moves like 'dying.'
Attached bathroom — a must for the labyrinthine bowel movements these guests deliver.
Lots of natural light —- so you can feel like you’re outside, without having to be outside.
Separate entrance and exit — super convenient if you’re divorced and therefore in hiding, or if you’re dead and need to be carried out on a stretcher but don’t really want to make it a whole thing.
Every night when I go to bed, I stare up at the ceiling and think, “Hey this is exactly where my dad died! This was his last view on earth! Pretty neat! This is like a sneak-peak into my own death!” Then a tiny mortality tour-bus drives circles in my head until I kind of fall asleep, waking up every few hours to spit out the dirt I swallow from my shallow family grave.
“Should I sell my wedding dress or be buried in it?”
“Should I keep it and be a Miss Havisham?”
I swear the dress stood upright in the closet. It stood there, staring at me and the box that held my dad’s ashes. My dress faced his ashes. Two corpses. One fried to dust and pressed into a square, black box. One hanging stiff in a long white body-bag. My bride-corpse. My wife-corpse.
I knew it was a bridal cadaver. I knew that. But it was very hard for me to send her off to the farm (Jeff). I still loved my precious corpse. I still thought it was a beautiful corpse. Not your average bridal corpse. How could I part with my embroidered doily-corpse? I wanted all of my wedding guests to kneel at my open casket and weep at my beauty. Like all the little men did for Snow White in her glass coffin. Please, lean into my casket and forgive me for being a bad wife. Whisper, “It’s all over now. Your virtue is preserved and eternal.” Let me be Forever Twenty-Eight, a wiser, petrified version of the tube-top store.
Twenty-eight with a father, who is alive and giving a nice speech at my wedding. Twenty-eight and dancing with my boyfriend, who is now my husband, to a funny song. Stunning and stiff and forgiven.
I never let anyone down because I never turn twenty-nine. I never turn twenty-nine so I never watch my father die. I don’t show up every day to help him die. I don’t feel my heart shatter and grow and rage within me, until it is a newer model of a heart I don’t know how to use. I’m buried with my old heart, the one that worked fine.
I don’t sit with him on my sister’s couch a week before he died. We never watch the video of us dancing at my wedding. He doesn’t say, “I’m glad you have this, Fiona. For when I’m gone.” He doesn’t say this to me because I’m gone too. I don’t have to remember the phone call we had when we were choosing the song we’d dance to. He cried when we chose it, because it was the right one. Because it wasn’t a song about a happy future, it was a song about remembering. It was a song about goodbye.
“Okay. I’m selling my wedding dress. I’m a failure and a business woman.”
It was time. I needed to face the body bag. To let her go. To sell the lacy fabric of my deceased future to a guy named Jeff. “This is Jeff’s dress now,” I thought. I took it off the rack. It still had the label from the bridal tailor lady who told me I should wear earrings with it. Who said my wedding was the most important day of my life. Hey, guess what? I hate wearing earrings and I hate listening to antiquated drivel.
I unzipped the bag. There she was. My celestial carcass. I tried it on. It didn’t fit. It was baggy. Like I had gotten a whole new body. The dress and the body did not go together. This helped. The dress was for another woman. A wonderful, dead woman. I miss her. She had a lovely body that she thought looked fat from many angles. She thought she was a little fat, but nothing was dire. She had a lighter sense of humor. She threw a gorgeous, fun wedding. She and her nice husband. When her nice husband was her nice boyfriend, she threw great taco parties for his birthdays. She was very fun, Jeff. Please, Jeff, you have to know that. She was well-liked and fun to be around.
Tragedy can change a person, Jeff. It’s not all bad but it sure is awful.
I think about you every day, Jeff. Ebay Jeff. Jeff who lives in Philadelphia. What did you do with my wedding dress, Jeff? Did you wear it? Did you buy it for your fiancée? Is her name Jeff too? I hope you are a better wife than me, Jeff. I tried very hard. I need you to know that I tried very hard. It is very difficult to be a wife, Jeff, I hope you can do it.
I thought I could be a cool wife. I see them around. Cool wives. But why is it still the woman’s job to maybe change her name, Jeff? I looked up the history of that tradition and Jeff, it blows. Women as property, Jeff, are we still navigating that? I never changed my name, but some people changed it for me on envelopes. I think that is bullshit, Jeff. “Ms.” had to be invented because “oops," Jeff. Even Miss Havisham didn’t get to be Ms. Havisham. That might’ve helped her. I know it’s just a name. Look, Jeff, I’m not against people changing their names. If changing your name makes you feel like Prince or Madonna, then change it, Jeff. When is your wedding, Jeff? Jeff, will you send me pictures of you wearing the dress?
I hope it fits you only okay.