In His Boots
The mementos we hold on to, heirlooms we choose not to discard and throw away.
All the traditional, routine ways we try to live inside the memory of someone, some one precious, beloved. To feel them near in the physical awhile longer can seem foolish and nonsensical.
It’s ridiculous to think an oversized, outdated, uncomfortable pair of black boots with fleece lining and thick rubber soles hold any value, and yet.
I wear my father’s boots when I head out to walk the dog. It’s crazy, they’re too big and my heels slip and slide trying to find solid footing on shaky ground. It doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to be practical, or looking for some mystical answer or hidden treasure. The cold air smashes against my ankles and makes my toes curl. I don’t care; I like the deep freeze against my skin. The winter frost reminds me I am indeed breathing as snow creeps in and drips down my exposed limb. I suppose I could double up woolen socks, try to fill the void. Why would I? I tried that once, my feet felt cramped and uncomfortable screaming for some space and air.
To feel the empty, sit in the hollow spaces he once filled effortlessly makes perfect sense.
I don’t want to box up the boots, stow them in a back closet or even gift them away. I want to remove the black boots with zippers on both sides from the shelf each winter, and grin. Another season to make new memories together, him and me.
I will carefully set them aside for when the inevitable seasons change again, and wait for spring. I want something to look forward to.
His smile fades as time and distance creates a vacuum, the gaping, fuzzy recollection plays tricks on the mind.
Was it a false memory?
Did I pile into the back of his rusted, pickup truck for Blackberry ice cream on many a summer’s eve? Did we giggle and laugh until we peed our pants from the smell of horseshit? Did he lift me up on his shoulders every chance he got? Did his eyes beam each time he looked at me?
Did I hear the snores while he slept on the floor beside me when I was fevered? Did he count laps as I swam lifting my head from the water peeking to make sure he was exactly where I left him? I still do that sometimes, turn my head to the side expecting to see him instead of an empty chair. My reflexes and muscle memory are still intact.
Were there tears in his eyes the first time I left home and the last time we said goodbye? Goodbye for now, not forever.
Did he love me?
That, I don’t doubt. I don’t need a faded memory to feel his love in my bones and smiling under my skin. His grin is the brightest, fondest memory I hold. My heart and his are forever entwined.
Still, doesn’t make the missing any easier.
I wear his boots and trip sometimes.
That makes me smile, on the inside.