Deborah Monk AuthorWhen I was seven years old, my best friend lived next door.  Her mother was an amazing seamstress and made a lot of my best friend’s clothes.  There was one outfit I absolutely adored.  It was made of red gauzy fabric with tiny white polka dots.  It was sleeveless with pretty ruffles straps over the shoulders.  For my birthday, her mother made me an identical outfit.  When we had a field day at school to celebrate the end of the year, I wore it.

Halfway through the day, I asked if I could go inside and get a jacket.   At the beach, my mother always made me wear a t’shirt over my bathing suit, even in the water, because I was so pale and burned so easily.

Since it was a warm day, the teacher looked at me funny and said no.

After school, my grandmother picked me up and took me to her house because it was her day to host her bridge club.  As she was running around setting up for her company, I started to feel sick.  She was shocked to realize that I had second degree burns on my shoulders.  My skin was burned raw with oozing blisters.  My pretty red outfit was literally stuck to my shoulders.  She had to cut the top off me and peel strips of fabric off my burnt skin.  The pain of watching her cut my precious outfit was only matched by the pain as she peeled strips of fabric off my skin.

I couldn’t put anything over my shoulders so I sat on the couch, topless, with a towel wrapped around my torso, tears streaming silently down my face.  My hot skin freezing with every breathe of air, my hand-made outfit in pieces beside me on the couch, embarrassed to be sitting topless among strangers as I listened to them play bridge, hoping Nan would be able to fix the outfit like she promised.

None of it was that horrible, yet it was a lot of pain for a seven year old to endure.  Exposed and vulnerable in so many ways.

I’m only remembering this story from so many years ago because my daughter moving to the other side of the world feels like this.