The shoes

Images of my friend flicked by on the two large screens at the front of the church. She and her husband in a vineyard in New Zealand. The two of them posing in Africa, an elephant behind them. Her baby propped on her hip at dusk, the ocean their backdrop. Snow falling on the family of three in Victory Memorial Parkway for their last Christmas card. That bright smile of hers; that characteristic tilt of her head. Her forty years now encapsulated in 2-D for some short minutes before a service.

Was Lorna really gone?

Her mother, Debbie, strode up the aisle to the pew where I sat. She reached for my hand, and I squeezed hers.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

“We were just sitting outside on the patio with her, weren’t we?” Her eyes were clear like a day when the rain has just stopped.

I did some quick math to figure the time since our last visit in June, before cancer snapped Lorna out of the circle. I nodded.

“Can you come over to the house this week and help me go through her clothes?” she said. “You can take anything you want.”

Her beautiful clothes. Sorting through them… So personal. And taking them away… So permanent. “Of course. Thanks for thinking of me.”

Later at my friend’s house, Debbie approached me with a shoe box, a smile stretched across her face. "Here you go.”

I lifted the lid. If Lorna’s life were a pair of shoes, these were it. Exotic, elegant, fun. I slipped off my boot and stepped into one of the high heels. A perfect fit. “I love these.”

I plucked the shoe’s twin from its box and examined them together. Pretty. Then I looked at the bottoms. Scuffed. Lorna had worn these shoes—and not just once. I saw parties, weddings, dances, and galas in the soles. These beauties had been loved.

Lorna’s shoes spoke a good word: Life is fleeting. And stuff is only stuff, so use it. Burn the gift candles, break out the guest towels, eat off the good dishes.

And wear the fancy shoes.


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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.