Our son Thomas was born. He died. And he had to be buried. And I thought about what I wanted him to be wearing when we laid him in his coffin. I knew it had to be something special, something really beautiful.

So I went shopping and, in the one and only children’s clothing boutique in town, I found exactly what I wanted: an exquisite ivory baptismal gown. But would it fit our son? The owner of the shop appeared at my elbow, eager to help and I told her I was worried the gown would be too big. She asked me how old our baby was, and I replied, “One day old,” and I might have stopped right there, but I didn’t. The words flowed out of my mouth: “But he’s dead. I want a gown to bury him in.”

The woman’s eyes filled with tears. She reached out and enfolded me in a huge, warm hug. “If it doesn’t fit,” she said. “I’ll alter it for him myself.” She took the gown from my hands and placed it on the shop counter, and then said,“You’ll need a singlet and how about some socks? And look at this shawl. It will look perfect over the gown.”

I followed the woman around the shop as she gathered various items of clothing. Of course Thomas had to be dressed properly. Yes, he needed socks and underclothes, as well as the gown. Why hadn't I thought of them myself?

It was a very expensive gown. The shawl cost a lot of money too. But that didn't matter. This was the only outfit I was ever going to buy Thomas. I wanted our son to be dressed in the best.

The sales woman carefully wrapped the baptismal gown and the shawl in a piece of tissue paper and then she slid them into a large paper bag, together with the smaller items of clothing and then handed them to me. I had my money all ready to pay but she shook her head. “That’s okay,” she said. “No charge.”

How could I walk out of the shop with all these beautiful clothes without paying a cent? It didn't feel right. But how could I refuse such a gift of love? The woman must have understood how I was feeling because she proposed a nominal sum which I gratefully accepted. Then she hugged me again before I left the shop.

Several days later we attended Thomas’ viewing at the funeral home. I leaned down over his coffin, and carefully picked him up. The ivory gown flowed over his little rag doll legs. A matching bonnet covered his fair hair. I adjusted the delicate shawl and held him close. He was beautiful, absolutely perfect. And so were his clothes.

Did it really matter what Thomas was wearing when we buried him deep in the ground? I think about the rain seeping into his coffin. I think of his beautiful clothes decaying away. Was it all a waste? No; those clothes were important. They were important to me and they were important to Thomas.

I think Thomas knows he was buried in an exquisite gown of love. 


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  1. Crying. Oh my, Sue, I'm crying. This is why you weren't to write about gum boots, I suspect, because this is magnficent. The tenderness, the kindness of the shop owner were beautiful, and you took us right there with you and we saw and felt and knew in our hearts (I did, anyway) that she was not going to charge you, at least for the things she'd suggested. Thank you for sharing this about your beautiful Thomas, in his beautiful gown of love.

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    1. Nancy,

      Thank you! I had a gum boot story all planned out. I even wrote it but it was wrong and the right words just wouldn't appear. But I wrote this story very quickly. I'm glad it was okay! It made me realise there are still some memories that haven't yet been explored. Thomas seems to be an unending story!

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  2. Oh Sue, Thomas is so loved! That is what I always experience whenever I read your Thomas stories. How he must have felt that love while he was growing inside of you, and then during the short time he lived on earth. Surely, he feels it even more now in Heaven, where all love dwells in God's Love. What a beautiful story! What a kind and caring shopkeeper! You and your Thomas stories remind me of the verse in I Corinthians 13: Love never ends. God bless you, Sue. You are such an amazing mother. I'm so glad you didn't write aboaut the gum boots. xo

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    1. Patricia,

      Love is so powerful and yes, it never ends. I am quite surprised how it can keep on growing and growing. I never saw that shop keeper again but I shall never forget her. Some people would never have known what to say to me. I was often reluctant to tell people about Thomas in case it resulted in an uncomfortable silence. This lady truly was a beautiful person, and I will always be very grateful for her extreme kindness and compassion.

      I don't know how I managed to write this story. I am having so much trouble finding any words to say anything. I am now stuck on my H post. Perhaps I'm tried.

      Thank you so much for your beautiful comment, Patricia.

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  3. Sniff, sniff. I understand why there was no room for gum boots in your head. This is a beautiful story of love shared.

    If you're tired - and I would be after this emotion-loaded story - you need a hammock, And why not save your gum boots for w for wellingtons unless you have the perfect story there already.

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    1. Uglemor,

      Thank you! A hammock sounds wonderful. I'd need a couple of trees and some shade to make my rest perfect.

      I was tired when I finished this story yesterday. I actually decided I wasn't going to write any more A - Z posts. My H story just didn't want to be written. But then this morning, after a good night's sleep, I thought of a way to tell my high heels story... so I'm still here! I wonder if I will make it to W for wellingtons...

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  4. Sue that was a truly beautiful memory. What a lovely lady and the gown sounds so very, very beautiful. She was a very thoughtful person helping you like she did, pointing out a shawl etc. "An exquisite gown of love" ... what a beautiful phrase. Hugs xxx

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    1. Lisa,

      I wish I'd taken some photos of that beautiful gown and shawl. I do have a few blurry at-a-distance pictures but I would love a proper one of those perfect clothes. Never mind. I can remember! Thank you so much for the hugs!

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  5. This is an exquisite tale of love. Beautiful.

    Gracexxxx

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    1. Grace,

      It is kind of you to leave such a kind comment. Thank you for reading my story!

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  6. Sue, if we lived closer, I would give you a hug. It must be so hard to lose a child. I have another friend whose first child was born still and she is doing a countdown leading up to the anniversary. Her son died ten or eleven years ago, but it is still fresh in her heart it seems. You have a wonderful ministry here online helping those who have lost children.

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    1. Gina,

      I'm so sorry to hear of your friend's loss and grief. Yes, the pain never really goes away and feels very fresh around the time of an anniversary. I always find comfort in sharing with those who understand, so I hope someone somewhere finds my stories a little bit helpful. Thank you so much for your kind words. I would love a real hug too!

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  7. Sue, I like the other commenters have no words for this; I am just pole-axed. It is a thing of terrible beauty and yes, growing love. The depth of love expressed for your son and the shopkeeper are so apparent in this story and I have no other words. I came over as a minion of #teamDamyanti to read and explore and leave here changed and that is not a bad thing. It certainly doesn't happen every day. My love and heart go out to you and your family. Mary, aka Viola Fury. Twitter @ ViolaFury http://www.homelesschroniclesintampa.blogspot.com

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    1. Mary,

      Grief stories are difficult to read, let alone comment on. Yes, words are so hard to find. So I thank you for taking the time to leave me this very kind and thoughtful comment. I appreciate it very much! I think it's so wonderful when people can meet and share a moment of love and understanding because of a story. Thank you for sharing my Thomas story. Oh and thank you for visiting my blog!

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