An empty shoe. That’s what I held Saturday. After a year and a half I finally cleared out the last of my Mom’s belongings. Except the jewelry box. My sister is going to take care of that for me. It’s just too hard. She has graciously offered to see to it that our siblings get the items our Mom wanted them to have.
But the empty shoe. For me there is no louder voice of a death than an empty shoe. I look at it and I hold it and I hear it saying to me that it held a life. It carried my Mom around daily and took care of her. She’s the only one that this shoe ever held. It represents life and activity and a sense of purpose. Those things are gone now and it’s emptiness screams at me. I’ve tried many times to pull her things from the closet to sort through and give away but every time I opened the door I saw her empty shoe. And I closed the door again.
It’s almost haunting. It sits there… a reminder that the life is no longer. So I put it away for another day so that I don’t have to think about it.
I had set aside a couple of her things to keep…a couple of embroidered handkerchiefs, a t-shirt she wore under her pajamas to keep warm when she started getting sicker…a pair of silly socks. I love silly socks and I bought her some at Christmas time to wear. But, as I finished going through her things, I put them in with the other items I was donating. I think that instead of being healthy reminders like her paintings are, they will be sad. It’s heart-wrenching for me to hold them and I miss her so very much. I’m torn as to whether I should keep them. Today I want them back. Maybe they remind me of her humanity and her reality. The jewelry really means nothing to me. There’s a necklace I’ll keep that I bought her for Christmas the first year I had a job as a kid. She’s kept it all of these years. But, there is nothing else I want. I just wish I had that one last day with her that people talk about. I just wish I could feel her around me sometimes. I never do. I did with my Dad…maybe I just haven’t been able to let Mom back in yet. Maybe it still hurts too much. I think about all of the memories and I know she must be here somewhere… When Dad died I remember one night being so broken and crying and feeling that if I could just run fast enough and far enough maybe I could catch up to him… That’s how I feel now…I want to reach out and just be able to touch her again. It seems like I should be able to… But as I look at her empty shoe I know that she’s not here. I don’t know…a life can’t just evaporate into nothingness. I wish that I didn’t have to go on without her here. I miss her. I miss her more than I ever thought I could. I know she’s in a better place…I guess she’s moved on in her journey. She missed my Dad…she missed her sister and her brother…her parents…I just wasn’t ready for her to go.

Ciao Amici…

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