Kimberley’s note: For sale: baby shoes, never worn
Often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, and assumed to be a sad story, I don’t feel that has to necessarily be the case. So here’s another idea …
Baby shoes, never worn.
I’m unpacking cardboard shoeboxes. Their contents are wrapped in what used to be white tissue paper, brittle and cream coloured now with age. I know what I’m looking for. I’ve gone through six boxes already, and although I haven’t seen it for years, it’s got to be here somewhere.
I take the lid off one box, and take the contents out. No, this isn’t the one but it squeezes my heart anyway and brings a tingle to my nose. They’re leather shoes that I bought for Jemma before she was born, little red ones with buckles on.
But she never wore them. Three weeks after Jemma was born, she developed meningitis. We were told to expect the worst, that even if she lived, she might lose all four limbs. But she was lucky, and so were we. She lived. My baby girl lived. Septicaemia took her feet but her hands, those clever delicate hands that caress the violin she makes her living with, were left intact.
She always accepted things as they were and that made us do so too. Jemma taught us a lot about adversity and overcoming it.
‘Mum, what are you doing up there? We need to go soon’. Jemma’s voice is strong and confident as it bounds up the stairs like a puppy, and enters my heart via my ears.
‘Just a minute’. I need that time to wipe a tear away.
I open another box. Yes. Here it is. My wedding garter; something borrowed, something blue.
And downstairs my beautiful daughter is in her wedding gown, ready to wheel up the aisle to meet her handsome groom.
Shoes. Baby size or not. Hah. Who needs them.