Sad shoes say so much

12 Bronzed Baby Shoes

I live relatively close to an antique store. Actually, it's an antique mall; it says so on the sign. It also says it's the largest antique mall in the state.

It's not the kind of antique place that carries high-end, hoity toity, fancy schmancy stuff I could never afford. They do have a bit of that, but they also have lots and lots -- and I mean LOTS -- of just old, cool things the average and <ahem> currently unemployed antique lover can afford.*

I feel pretty fortunate having this antique mall so close to my home because I love antiques (the plain, old, average kind), and I love roaming the serpentine aisles of this place, just waiting for an item to call out to me. I don't think I've ever made my way through the entire store -- not in one visit, not in all my visits combined. There's that much stuff!

And there's usually lots of stuff that captures my fancy. Yet there's only one item that captures my heart ... each and every time I'm in there. I can't explain why, but I'm haunted by bronzed baby shoes that sit neglected on the shelves. And there were several pair last time I was there.

And I keep thinking about them.

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how something that once was so treasured the owners went through the process of preserving it for eternity is then cast off and left for strangers. At what point does a parent say, "Well, these no longer really matter. Let's just get rid of them."?

And how does that make the child feel? Sure, the one whose little feet originally filled the shoes now likely has feet three times that size and the sensibilities of an adult. But don't they suffer the slightest twinge of sadness at the realization that their once-precious little tootsies no longer warm the cockles of Mom's and Dad's heart?

Or were the shoes cast off because that little one passed away and Mom and Dad could no longer bear the constant reminder of their loss sitting upon a shelf in the living room.

Or was it that the child, now an adult with not a sentimental bone in his or her body, got rid of the treasure Mom and Dad passed along?

The unknown reasons for these sad little shoes dotting the shelves of the antique mall clog up my heart.

I've considered buying bronze baby shoes each time I find a pair, starting a collection and setting up a shelf of my own, giving them a home. But I'm conflicted. I want to honor and hug the little ones that once filled the shoes yet I don't know if I could bear having the constant reminder of such sadness -- or imagined sadness, as the case may be -- sitting upon a shelf.

Those sad shoes say so much ... yet say so little.


*Okay, so I'm not really completely unemployed; I do have a very part-time job with the local literacy center. But we're talking about 1/5 the income that I made a year ago, so I still consider myself unemployed.