“I can try on these ones, right? That’s fine, but not those shoes.”
Correct. Not those ones.
Those ones belonged to her and now they belong to me. They are the best pair I own. Not because they are a certain brand or cost more than others, although they are a very good pair of shoes.
Those shoes were meant for someone else. Someone kind and wise and good who didn’t get a chance to wear them.
The owner of those shoes knew how to make you feel like the smartest person in the room. She listened with focused attention and compassion. There was no judgement, but she could challenge your thinking and loved you even if you didn’t see eye to eye.
She was the organizer of book clubs and prayer journals and pushed us to self-reflect. She valued friendships, relationships, and sincere dialogue.
She was my friend.
She would often arrive early to life group at our home and we would steal a few minutes to unload the frustrations of dealing with our loved ones. We talked about parenting and screen time policies and balancing the demands of family and work life. And she asked good questions about faith and God. It was a time I enjoyed and now I cherish.
Those shoes belonged to someone who was quick to tell you what she admired about you, who freely handed out hugs and arm squeezes. She loved cozy sweaters, chocolate, tea, and wine. Oh, and camping, but I can overlook that.
She is gone, but not entirely.
See, those shoes belonged to someone with vast circles of friends. With her passing those circles have expanded and connected to create a web of relationships. When her girls get together I learn about her crazy summer adventures, her time as a new mom, and how she has impacted so many lives. Her legacy lives on in every telling of those memories.
Those shoes were bought by someone I wish I had had more time with.
So no, son, you can try on any of the shoes in my closet. Have fun, tease me about my fashion choices, hobble around in high heels, but leave those shoes.
Those shoes are special.