To Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

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As I lace up her boots on my feet I can’t help but think of the first time she put them on hers. When she was still just a newlywed with no care in the world. I imagine where they might have gone on that first hike so she could break in her boots.  I can see them hand in hand, stealing sideways glances at each other, maybe tripping over a rock in the process, literally head over heels in love. Not too different than I am now.

She may have had a kid or two but life was still pretty easy. She had no idea how her life would unfold. She would have never guessed that her small family of four will grow to 13. I try to imagine how she may have struggled first with sleepless nights and later with unruly teenagers. I picture the sacrifices she made and the hardships she endured. But the picture is a hazy one.

I try but fail to imagine what it was like the day the doctor diagnosed her with cancer, what might have been going through her head. Likely her 9 children still at home and the lives they may have to lead without her. And how she felt when those closest to her mocked and disapproved of her treatment decision. And in the moments before she let go, shortly after my husband made the 6 hour drive to be at her side. Did she finally feel like she had tied up her loose ends? Was she relieved to leave her pain behind or did she ache at the thought of leaving her family as well.

I might be able to physically walk a mile in her shoes but I will never be able to do the same metaphorically. No matter how hard I try, I can’t picture what her life was like.

Her boots are tied and I head out the door, my hand laced with her son’s, all around me her posterity is running; playing, and suddenly I know that she is happy. She lived her life and left her children in the capable hands of her husband and she can watch their lives unfold from her comfy seat on high. I am grateful for the life she lived and her son who has become an incredible husband and father. I miss her and I am grateful for the literal chance I have to walk a mile in her shoes.

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