Lest you think that this has all been about perspective and growth and strength, I feel the need to share with you one of the most devastating (and, frankly, shallow) aspects in our journey to health through loss. I reached a point several years ago where I was utterly pleased with my wardrobe. I had cultivated and curated pieces that I loved and could intermingle with each other to wear again and again. It made me feel good and it gave me confidence.
More than my wardrobe, though, was my shoe collection. I can only say, with a tear in my eye and not an ounce of irony, that my shoes were my babies. I had boots: suede, leather, snakeskin; red, black, brown, camel; high heel, low heel, mid heel; knee high, calf high, ankle booties. I had heels: patent, suede, fabric, leather; gold, black, brown, burgundy, red, nude; stiletto, wedge, chunky. I had sandals: strappy, flat, walking; leather, rope, cork, plastic. I even had a couple of pairs of sneakers and three or four pair of flats. Did I mention the boots?
Learning, as we did, that we would have to lose everything in order to gain health was hard enough to bear, but when it became clear that "everything" included my shoes, it was just too much. I would dissolve into a puddle just thinking about it. And with that, let me provide you with a eulogy for my shoes, a shoeulogy, if you will.
Goodbye, red snakeskin Manolo Blahniks. From the first moment I saw you on the rack in Filene's, I knew we were soulmates. From your $250 pricetag (which I talked the checkout lady down to $150) to your perfect stiletto heel to your absolutely uncomfortable leather sole, I loved you. You were with me at my rehearsal dinner, on a trip to Prague where I nearly broke your heel off (sorry about that...nobody told me there'd be cobblestones), and on days at work when I really needed to be sassy. You were the queen of my closet.
Goodbye, nude pumps. You served dutifully for several years, smartly blending in with browns, blues, oranges, and even, on one occasion, sequins. You were up to whatever task I chose to draft you into: a business lunch; a summer wedding; dinner out on a Saturday night; brunch with the Girls. You were the pearl necklace of shoes -- elegant and suitable for nearly every occasion.
Goodbye, black riding boots. From September through March, you were the go-to choice for comfort and ease. Whether it was a denim skirt or skinny cords, you knew just how to make any outfit look as if it had just emerged from a Town & Country Magazine shoot in the English countryside. Cheerio, old friend.
Goodbye, red satin peeptoes. You carried me down the aisle on my wedding day, and danced the best night of my life away with me. You gave me a blister on my little toe, but I forgave you for it. And even if you didn't get out much after that night, your place on my shelf was one of honor.
Goodbye, black leather high heel Prada booties. Like your cousin Manolos, we met in that aisle in Filene's, your name on the box issuing a siren call that could not be ignored. Though you probably didn't appreciate it, I told anyone who would listen that you only cost $150 (marked down from $795) because I knew your real worth. What I would give to stroke your Italian leather one last time . . .
Goodbye, Stuart Weiztman lanyard cork wedges. You were without a doubt the most comfortable, sky-high shoes I've ever owned. You went with everthing: jeans, dresses, slacks. I could put you on in the morning, walk a couple of miles, and keep wearing you into the evening. A dutiful and practical shoe, you gave me height and confidence and comfort. I'm glad you're now living with some girl in Australia who totally gets you.
Goodbye, J. Crew red snakeskin mid-calf almond toe heeled boots that were half a size too small, but fit if I wore stockings instead of socks and ignored that I couldn't feel my little toe. You were the best $35 bargain a gal could ask for. For more than 10 years, you marched yourself out when I really needed a kick (and had forgotten about that pesky little toe thing).
Goodbye, Aquatalia knee-high suede high heeled dress boots, I think I'll miss you most of all. I coveted, nay stalked, you online for three years before I finally made you mine. You went with everything, kept me warm, and felt like you were made from the skin of a newborn. I loved everything about you and would've slept wearing you if I could. You made my life better just being in it, and it's a little darker out there now that you're gone.
To all the other boots, flats, sneakers, heels, and sandals, you may not have been my favorites, but you served me well and loyally every step I took. May every step you take be one toward heaven.
For more information about environmental illness, mold, and mycotoxin poisoning, read here, here, and here, and watch video here.