Have You Seen This Journey T-Shirt in Bozeman?
Bozeman, I need your help.
I recently (accidentally) parted with my mom’s Journey T-shirt. I didn’t mean to, and now it’s gone and I desperately need it back.
This may not sound like a big deal, but trust me, it is. My mom died of cancer last March. Before she died she was cleaning out her closets.
“I’m just going to give all this stuff to the Salvation Army,” she told me over the phone from Pennsylvania.
“All what stuff?” I asked.
“These old T-shirts.”
“My old concert shirts.”
“No!” I said. “Send them here. Please.”
So she did, along with a few of my other favorite items from her closet from when she was younger…and I was younger. A hot pink belted button-down dress that I remember her wearing on date nights out with my dad, nights I would spend at my grandma’s house and my parents would get dressed up and go out on the town. My mom in a dress, heels, makeup. But the T-shirts were my favorites: Journey, Heart, John Cougar, The Cars. I unpacked the box of shirts (one of the last boxes she would send me) and tucked them in my closet here in Bozeman.
My mom used to send me care packages all the time. Every holiday. Sometimes just because (Girl Scout Cookie season, when my college magazines that were still being sent to their house started piling up, and so on). The last package, the one she never got around to sending, was an Easter package. I found the cookies and candy on the floor of my childhood bedroom, ready to be packaged up, when I went home for her funeral.
I ended up mailing myself that last package, the cookies and candy, along with some other things from their house, before I headed back to Montana after her death. The woman at the post office in my small Pennsylvania hometown saw the address on the package when I passed it across the counter to her, looked up and said, “I’m so sorry about your mom.” My mom was known for her packages.
And while I received dozens of packages from her over the years, the one with her old T-shirts in it carried more weight, more value than the others. She was cleaning out her closet so we’d have less work to do. In her last months, she was lightening the load for us. She no longer needed her old T-shirts. But I did. I needed to hold them and smell them and think of a time when she wore them, she and my dad swaying to the music. Young. Carefree. Happy. Their whole lives ahead of them. I loved this vision of my mom. I loved what those T-shirts meant.
Journey was her favorite. I remember riding in her white Pontiac Firebird while she played her Journey tape in the cassette player. “Wheel in the Sky” would come on and she would turn it up.
“This is our song!” she’d tell me.
Fast forward to March of this year. Journey was playing in Bozeman. I got tickets. And I knew I was going to wear her shirt. One year to the month after her death, I was going to see one of her favorite bands while wearing her T-shirt. It made me feel a little closer to her.
That’s where the plan fell apart.
In the weeks before the concert, my fiance and I and our new baby moved to a new house across town. Like my mom, I decided to lighten my load. I bagged up a bunch of old clothes that I no longer needed and set them aside to go to Sacks, the secondhand store downtown. You can probably see where this is going. In the chaos of moving (with the help of a 6-month-old baby) I mixed up the bags. I didn’t realize it until the day of the show when I went to find the Journey shirt. I tore the house apart. I tore the car apart. I tore everything apart. It was gone.
I went to Sacks. I rummaged through the racks. I saw one of my other shirts that I knew was in the same bag as the Journey shirt, and my stomach dropped. A woman hanging up clothes walked by. I asked her about the Journey shirt. She remembered it. It was here, and it sold, she told me. It was gone. I walked out of the store sobbing. How could I have mixed up the bags?
I know it was an accident. I know it was just a shirt. But it wasn’t, not to me. It was HER shirt. And now it’s gone. But I hope not forever.
If someone picked it up at Sacks, if someone sees it, if someone has the heart to return it, I would be eternally grateful. I took the picture (above) of the shirt and posted it to Instagram when it came in the mail from my mom. I’m hoping someone out there recognizes it and returns it. I would mean the world to me.