I was cleaning out my closet recently, something I hate to do by the way, but it was long overdue. Once I’d gotten rid of old shirts and pants I no longer wear, packing them off to the Salvation Army, I turned to the bottom of the closet where my shoes are kept.
I’m not a person who owns a lot of shoes. I have a pair of sneakers, some boots, a pair of brown loafers for work, a pair of black dress shoes and some flip flops for summer.
Until cleaning day, I technically had two pair of sneakers — a decent pair I wear to walk in and for around the house and then there was the hideous, deteriorating pair of tennis shoes which needed to be tossed several years ago.
I’d stopped wearing the old pair of sneakers probably five years ago. They were, for lack of a better description, ready for the garbage can. But I could never bring myself to toss the grimy, ripped and worn out shoes.
As silly as this may sound, the shoes had a sentimental value to them on a couple different levels. For me letting go of them had been difficult, but something I think was necessary.
The shoes were possibly the last physical gift given to me by my mother before she passed away in 2005. When she gave them to me I’m not exactly sure, but I wore them during a period after she died I call “the dark times.”
It was a time in my life where I’d hit proverbial rock bottom — laid off from work, struggling to get by, dealing with problems I’d created for myself and essentially on my own I’d worn the shoes almost daily.
Through most of 2006 I’d found myself without a car, forced to walk to many places I needed to go. Every day it was a walk to the library, to downtown Flint, to the store and, some days, an 8-10 mile one way trek to see my kids. I probably put hundreds of miles on those shoes — the soles, worn down to slippery rubber pads, a testament to the number of miles I walked during that time.
For some reason I’d kept the nasty looking shoes. Through several moves they’d gone along with me, but now as I looked at them, I knew it was time to let go. The shoes may have been a gift from my mom, who I love and miss dearly, but they were also a reminder of a time I sometimes would rather forget.
Ann Landers once said: “Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
So the shoes were finally given a proper sendoff into the trash can. They weren’t something I could donate like the other clothing. It was, for me, time to let go of the past as I look toward a brighter future. Bye shoes, I can’t say I’ll miss you.