Stop. Just stop.

One of the most refreshing things in South African dress was the absence of wearing black. The colors of shirts, skirts, even school uniforms were near-neon they were so bright. School uniforms in lime green? Gorgeous. Not to mention all the African prints and batiks in every combination possible, topped off with a ski hat – ski hats in Africa just makes me smile – beanies, straw hats, turbans, fabric head coverings, tooks and even a Scottish tam. I was in heaven.

Black, grey, beige, oatmeal – patrician colors, bleh. (I do love black and white, but that’s CLASSIC.) “Doesn’t make you look thinner. Makes you look older,” my mom (in her cheery pale yellow sweatshirt or chambray shirts) used to groan.

I remember getting the call from my brother. “I don’t think she’s going to make it.” Bullshit! I’d done this once before only a year before. Her favorite expression was coming into play. Bullshit!

I raced to get ready to leave when Roman came home from shooting hoops. But then, I was actually moving slowly, a miasma of molasses drapes over me. I reached up to pull my one wrap black dress I had. A voice in my head said, “You’ll need the black dress for the funeral.” Violently, my other hand slapped the dress back into the closet

Jewish tradition holds that you never wear black to a funeral. White, like on Yom Kippur. The rabbi may pulls black ribbons and hand them to loved ones, but white or anything non-black is more appropriate to honor what had been so near in life.

Pulling the black dress seemed like a sin. It was a premonition, feeling of hopelessness that prevailed and made me reach for it. And I am so ashamed of that. Only the year before, I went up to mend against lost causes, but I was so spirited I wore bright salmon, yellow sweats and a hibiscus flower in my hair. I wanted to greet her in bright colors with a smile that would defy all odds. The doctors had intubated her, my father resigned himself, and they were in essence waiting for us to let her go.

I showed up in my clowny pink with a big face, “Hi, Mom.” She opened her eyes they said for the first time in days and the next day, they pulled out the tubes. I slept in the ICU, in that outfit for a week, to make sure she’d be ushered out of there walking.

She passed four years ago and since then, I’ve been drawn to white, damned if it makes me look fat.Which is bullshit anyway, especially if you wear all one color, from head to toe.

Only in the last month have I felt like trying out being A Ma’am in Black. I think I can embrace it all.

Happiness Wine Open

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