When I was a teenager, I sang a duet with my cousin in a concert at my Grandma’s church. My mom found me the most beautiful ivory dress to wear for the performance; I loved that dress so much that I kept it after the performance, even though I didn’t really have any other occasion to wear it. The dress was much too fancy for any school dances other than prom, and I didn’t attend my prom (that’s a whole other story). But I felt like as beautiful as an angel in that dress so I insisted on keeping it. I was going to get married in it! Of course as generally happens, by the time I became engaged I had changed shape considerably since high school and there was no way I was going to be able to wear that dress. Ever.
I was surprised to learn recently that my parents had kept the dress in the closet of mom’s sewing room for almost 20 years (long after I got married); they even moved it with them into their new house. Mom pulled it out of the closet a couple of weeks ago and I was alarmed at how small it was. Thinking back to myself at that age I distinctly remember having a much larger image of myself when I looked in the mirror. But even my almost-12-yr-old daughter can’t fit into the dress now; it doesn’t even fit around her rib cage. Was I really that tiny? Faced with the fact that not only would I never wear that dress again, but neither would my daughter, I finally accepted that I had to let go of it. I told my mother she could salvage the material from the dress to use in her sewing projects, as long as she used some of it to make something for me. Now I have something new to anticipate; rather than planning the occasion when the dress will be worn, I am eager to see what little treasures my mom will make out of it. It makes me smile to think it may be part of many things, helping many other people smile and feel beautiful.
In many ways, this dress is a metaphor for my dreams to be a vet tech. When I went back to school I had a plan and I knew what I wanted to happen. In the two years since I graduated, I have realized that my dream will never take shape the way I imagined, but surprisingly I am learning to let go. Just as my angelic dress will be recycled in to many wonderful small things, my passion for helping animals will have to do the same. I will probably never be a full-time vet tech, but that is ok with me. I don’t need to work in a clinic to make a difference in the lives of animals. Sometimes I still feel an ache in my heart when I think of my dream slipping away from me, but I now understand that I just need to break it into smaller pieces and fit those pieces into the life I currently lead.