Photo: Rhonda Pelikan

Photo: Rhonda Pelikan

“There was
not after this dress.”

This is the first dress I bought for my daughter. She was four years old and she had been begging me for a dress for over a year when I finally gave in and bought her this hot-pink number. She wore it for the first time on Christmas Eve, and she entertained all the aunts and grandmas with her dance around the living room, so proud of how the skirt poufed out when she twirled. Her hair was still cut short, and we were still calling her by her boy name, but the writing was on the wall. There was no going back, not after this dress.

Five years on, each time I spot it hanging in the back of the closet, I’m still overpowered by the emotions I felt that Christmas Eve: sorrow at the impending loss of my son, guilt that I hadn’t bought the dress sooner, terror over what was to come, and more than anything else, joy: I had never seen my child so happy.

Marlo Mack
Producer, How to Be a Girl podcast
Seattle, WA

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