We bought four pairs. You came into the world with four pairs of Converse hightop shoes. Daddy bought unisex colors: two sets of aqua (unisex? debatable) and two sets of black, because we didn’t know if you were a boy or girl. But we were prepared with hightops, sizes 3, 5, 7, 9.
We didn’t know how this would work, you joining us, no other family member for 1000 miles, Mama in grad school, Daddy working 3 jobs. When the nurses handed you to me, I couldn’t tell if it was just the anesthesia making me shiver or if the great and profound weight of this new life in my care was making me quake. I was holding 8 lb. 1 oz. of beautiful you but the pull of gravity at that moment was much greater. Like a Mac truck had backed into my hospital bed and dropped a heap-ton of work and sleeplessness into my lap. Somehow–and I can’t explain it because I think you have to experience it firsthand–a feeling washed over me that you were the only one thing in my life that I couldn’t get out of, and yet we were going to be ok, you and I and Daddy, and that we were going to be so, so happy together.
I mean, for starters, at least we had shoes.
The first time I saw your Daddy walking up the hill of Schultz lawn, he was wearing Converse. They were red Chucks, the only appropriate choice for the man who captured my young heart.
Whenever we would go to visit your grandparents in Ann Arbor, we would visit Sam’s to buy ourselves a new pair of Cons.
It’s terribly naive to think that we should make this bulk investment in Converse for a girl who would not walk for another 13 months, but I suppose the shoes symbolize our naivete and our induction of you into our Converse club.
You put the last pair on today, the bookends on this shoe collection, and you complained that they were pinching your toes. It felt unfair, that you had outgrown these shoes that had once seemed so impossibly big without our even noticing it.
This, too, is a symbol of the invisible ache that your own growth causes the people who love you most in this world, and also of the wonderful shoes you have yet to fill that you do not yet own, in sizes we cannot yet fathom.