I remember staring at baby shoes on store shelves before you were conceived. I ached to put these tiny little shoes on my future baby’s feet. In the months and years we tried to get pregnant, I would imagine chubby little toes wiggling inside my belly, and getting to kiss these toes once you were born. When I was finally pregnant and we found out you were a boy, we had friends give us countless pairs of hand-me-down shoes. Converse lace-ups, cowboy boots- you name it, we had the ultimate pair for any occasion. When you were born, I couldn’t wait to put these shoes on you. Your feet were so perfectly tiny and squishy, just as I had imagined. Many of the pairs were too big, but I knew that someday, one day, you would wear them all. When we found the cancer in your right foot, it grew at such an alarming rate that many of your baby socks wouldn’t fit properly. We even had to cut the feet out of a couple of your onesies to allow your foot the space to move. And then, the news. They would be amputating your right foot in September. My dreams of you learning to walk, and wearing cute little shoes, and doing all of the things that we assume for any fully able-bodied child to do had changed in an instant. I remember wanting to burn the two copies of “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” we received at your baby shower. But somehow, slowly, steadily, we adapted. We watched you heal from your surgery, and began to understand that you losing your foot didn’t change your essence- not even close. We got excited about your prosthesis and watched you wear it as you jumped in your exersaucer, unencumbered by its chunky plastic bulk. We tried on multiple pairs of shoes for your prosthesis, but because the ankle was so thick many of them didn’t fit. We finally found one pair of velcro sneakers that were perfect. They were ready for you to start walking. But then the cancer spread to your brain. As you lost your faculties in a matter of days, the dream of watching you learn to walk dissolved before our eyes. After you were gone, I packed away the little socks and shoes you never got to wear. Unfamiliar sounds escaped from my body as I carefully placed your prosthesis in a drawer. Baby shoes will never hold the promise and excitement for me that they once did. For I now know that nothing is guaranteed.

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