Sitting in the front row of someone else life. That’s where we have been these 8 months.
These shoes tell so much truth. The week before the wedding, I found a crumpled up sliver-of-a-woman crying because she was bleeding and did not know why. Her finance was white with worry. Urgent Care, tests, visits to specialists, a CT scan, blood draws, panic attacks, diagnosis were the events which peppered her count-down to walking down the aisle. No bridal showers, massages, mani-pedis with friends to cancel…because she wouldn’t have had any of those anyway. Bride’s Magazine would not have had very much fun recounting her pre-wedding-day rituals. She wanted all the same things that the bridal industry peddles. Dreams of decorations, cakes, draped-chairs, up-dos, flawless skin, white-teeth, adoring friends and family ran through her fevered brain and made her all the sadder to be ill because how could she achieve the perfect wedding with failing kidneys, a terribly sick six year old and a life that was just barely being pulled out of homelessness, abuse and depression. To say that things have been precarious would be an understatement. To say that her path to the altar was a little bumpy….well, you know…
I think that the shoes speak for themselves.
We are up-close to all the action so as we sat in the pews for her service, we knew all that had led up to that moment which looked just about as normal as it could look. We knew that the dress needed a little more tape because she had not really eaten in the week before she married. We could see that our daughter, who stood up with her, was ready to swoop in if she lost her balance in those too-high-high-heels because she knew just how sick she was. We saw the extra layers of make-up which worked overtime to cover up her dark circles and even paler-than-normal skin. We knew these things because of where we sit in her life. We knew these things because she has let us walk with her.
The saying of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes has a different ring when you imagine squeezing into these size 5 4-inch heels. These don’t just go from beauty parlor, to limo, to church, back to limo, to fancy hotel room. They go from basement to a friends’ house, to a borrowed car filled with borrowed tables and chairs, to church, back to borrowed car, and back to the basement. They carry the weight of a malnourished bride who has walked down the aisle before and to find herself the victim of some of the worst kinds of abuse. They cost more than she is paid in a day, more than she is paid in two days. To walk in these shoes would mean walking in the fear of taking one misstep and loosing the right to continue living in this country. To walk in these shoes would mean walking in and out of scenes where you don’t know the language and are not sure that you are welcome because of it. To walk in these shoes is to walk in fear, in pain, in stress.
May you never have to walk a day in these shoes. May you know that others do. May you take a front seat in the life of another who could use a friend. May you walk with someone who’s path is different than yours and may you be changed by that.