Filling Your Shoes

It was June 2011.

I was finally untied, unlocked, let go- from the ward, the routine, and the heaviness of cancer treatment.

I was starting to emerge from the shadows-starting to find my rhythm- starting to find my footing.

There was only one problem- I couldn’t find my shoes.

7 months earlier, when I heard the words “you have cancer,” I unwillingly and unknowingly took off so fast-that my shoes were left behind.

Once I had completed  treatment- was given a clean bill of health-and finally released-I made it my mission to find those shoes.

I wrote about my efforts- I documented my failed attempts-and I opened up about my frustrations.

2 complete strangers- a mother and a daughter-read about my plight, and decided to create a pair of adorned flip flops that were noticeably  brighter, perfectly bedazzled- and just the right fit.

All of my failed attempts to pick up where i had left off- led me to exactly where I was supposed to be.

This pair of strangers,  gently informed me that it was superfluous to continue searching for the person I was once was, and that it was time to embrace who I had since become.

Over the last 15 months, I have been working hard to mourn my former self- and embrace who I am today.

Tonight, on September 21st, I was yet again given a new pair of shoes, destined to take me in a new direction, intended to lead me in a new dance.

Robert Piercy was a dancer. Diagnosed with Leukemia 7 years ago, he chose to find meaning in his suffering, embraced the uncertainty of his own mortality, and thereby lived differently. During this time, he noticeably held his loved ones tight, used his experiences to fuel his advocacy, and chose to dance in the rain- in the midst of a thunderstorm.

Tonight at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Celebration of Life Dinner, Robert Piercy’s family presented me with the “Dancing in the Rain Award.”

As his father gave a heartfelt speech, describing his son’s beautiful nature- all I could picture was Robert Piercy’s shoes.

They were tall, polished, and over-sized.

My feet slipped right in but I was quickly overwhelmed by the space.

When you left us, we were left with your empty space- a space that is impossible to fill- and impossible to forget.

How could I possibly fill your shoes?

How could I possibly walk in your footsteps?

And so it seems, a year later- I am still agonizing over shoes.

This time however, it is not about trying to find the shoes I left behind in December 2010, but rather it is about learning how to walk, learning how to run, and learning how to dance- in your  shoes.

They may not be a perfect fit, and I may not fully understand the road you traveled- but I assure you, it is your  shoes that will lead me to my next destination- and it is your shoes that will lead me in this dance.

With love and gratitude- may your memory always be a blessing.

And to the beautiful Pickering Family and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society- I am humbled and grateful for your honor.  Thank you for believing in me.