Thank you to Therafit Shoes for inviting me to guest blog:
Yesterday we dismantled a life. My siblings and I gathered together at my late mother's home to sift through her belongings. Seventy-four years of stuff cramped the walls and drawers. When I walked into her closet, I expected to find rows of blouses and bottoms, but the hangers were bare, our sister having already generously given away the clothes to the nurses who cared for Mom in her final weeks. The floor, however, was covered in shoes.
Shoes. Mom had discerning taste but spent frugally on herself. That meant casual comfort and take me where I need to go without a burning blister. I sat on the floor with her collection of soles and imagined the steps she had taken, the distances she had traveled. I held up a pair of black wintery boots and was reminded of the last trip we all took to North Carolina. Mom hadn't been diagnosed yet, but her body was beginning to fail her. She was tired; her appetite was compromised; the cold weather amplified her aches and pains.
And yet, Mom spent hours with me walking in her black boots through the streets of Johnson City, Tennessee in search of the perfect accessories for our new home. The woman was relentless, racing through Kohl's at lightning speed to guarantee that her daughter would not spend a penny more than necessary on pillow protectors.
Just weeks before our trip, my husband and I chaperoned our twin boys' sixth grade class to Washington, DC. One of the excursions was to the Holocaust Museum. Notably, the children, who attend a Jewish Day School, were quiet and pensive while walking through the cold, dark walls of the museum. The tour concluded at the haunted hall of shoes, the lasting remnants of millions of lives decimated in the Holocaust. Each sole was a symbol of one’s soul. One could tell by the varying shoe sizes and shapes the gender and age of its occupants. The children pointed out a baby shoe. That one small piece of leather, faded and dry, spoke louder than any words. It represented a life cut too short and dreams extinguished way too early.
Today my son stayed home from school sick with a cold. We decided to don our sneakers and take a walk around the neighborhood for some fresh air. Our house is nestled adjacent to the community I grew up in. We crossed the street and I was back in my youth. There was the sidewalk where I had played hopscotch, the street where I had painted the boxball stripes. With each step I plucked another memory: the lake, the tree I used to climb, the house of the friend with whom I had shared my first kiss.
Our shoes lead us on a path we might otherwise never have taken. They guide us up stairs and through doorways, across bridges and beyond our backyards. They protect, they lift, they inspire. They are strong and sturdy, though gentle when they touch the earth. They can insulate and motivate. Each pair has its own personality and its own direction.
Never underestimate the power of your shoes.
Never underestimate where they can take you in life.