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I have a pair of sandals my parents bought me as an early birthday present the day before my oldest sister’s funeral.  I love those sandals. They’re the perfect cross between casual comfort (flip-flops) and dressy (black patent leather straps with a gold circle in the middle of a black patent layered flower).  They’re comfortable. They go with almost anything. But they’re also 4 1/2 years old. The heels are wearing down – not like there was a lot to begin with. The layers of sole are coming apart. I’ve super glued them four separate times. I really should get rid of them and replace them, but I can’t seem to make myself do it. You see, they remind me of that time…saying goodbye to Deb, surrounded by family, celebrating her life in the midst of the sadness of losing her.

We had taken a couple of hours at the mall to escape a little bit. My parents know I’m a shoe girl. When I saw the sandals, I loved them immediately. As I wouldn’t be with my parents on my birthday, they decided the sandals would be my gift. Perfection. Every single time I put them on, I think of my parents with such gratitude, and I think of my sister. I think that’s why I can’t give them up. In my heart, it would be like saying goodbye to that last thread from that time. It would be like letting go completely. I’m not in a place I’m totally ready to do that.

I just glued the soles together again yesterday. The strap between the toes on one shoe is about to go. When it does, there will be no fixing it. But even then, I’m sure those sandals will stay in my closet. When I go, my kids will probably find them and wonder  what the heck they’re still doing in my closet. I may stick a note on them explaining. Even though Deb was already gone before they were purchased, in my heart, they keep her close to me somehow.

Today, we remember that horrific day twelve years ago when things happened we never imagined could happen inside the boundaries of our country. My husband and I watched the television in disbelief as first one, and then the other, tower fell. We drove to work under a sky empty of all airplanes. We sat numb at our desks all day, waiting and watching for news. Still, when I watch footage from that day, I pray it’s all a joke, a movie or something, and that there will be a different outcome. For over 3000 families who live with the truth every single day, my heart breaks. I’m sure some of them have some piece of clothing or some shoes they hang onto no matter how threadbare they get, because they are from that time, and getting rid of them is like letting that last piece go. And our hearts simply won’t allow that.

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