walking in hannah’s shoes (soLs)
Sunday morning I woke up, stretched, pulled on layers of exercise clothes and realized I’d forgotten my shoes. My options were orange moccasins or knee-high brown boots. Not exactly conducive for an hour + walk. And then I remembered — Hannah, my daughter, wears the same size shoe as me.
Yes. Hannah is ten.
Yes. Her shoes fit me.
Lucky for me, even though it was barely light, I heard Hannah in the bathroom. I caught her before she made it back to her bed. I gave her a hug and asked, “May I use your gym shoes?”
She nodded, eyes unopened, and stumbled back to bed.
I pulled on her shoes and slipped out the front door. I was aware of the foreign shoes on my feet. The fluorescent green shoe strings kept catching my eyes, surprising me the color was flashing from my feet. My foot wiggled a little, loose in some spots, tight in others. They were heavy, much bulkier than my lighter-than-air running shoes. But I was thankful to have them. Grateful for my walk. Glad Hannah was willing to share.
And then it hit me, this might be how Hannah feels.
We adopted Hannah nearly four years ago, when she was six years old, a kindergartner. It may come as a surprise to many of you, but for the last ten weeks most of my writing life has been devoted to writing about Hannah and Stephanie. I’ve nearly filled one journal and have another “on deck,” ready to go. I’ve written more about the girls than I’ve written blog posts, Choice Literacy articles, or on Celebrating Writers (which is due at the end of this month). The topic of my daughters and their adoption has absorbed my writing life, in fact, it has almost been a mutiny!
I write to figure things out. Ten weeks ago I was compelled to write about Hannah and Stephanie. Memories and stories and questions and those things that prick and pull at the shadowy edges of my conscience. So, I’m looking, in my ordinary, everyday life for ways to understand them, to see them more clearly.
And then I find myself in Hannah’s shoes. This literal task of walking around in her shoes, forced me into taking a figurative walk in her shoes. Hannah’s life changed completely when we adopted her. Family was defined differently. Her role in the family changed. And for the first time, she was able to find who she is — not who she had to be, nor who she thought other people wanted her to be — but who she really is, at the core of her rather remarkable heart. For four years we’ve been catching glimpses of the real Hannah. If we blink, we miss it. Lately, though, this remarkable little girl, with a servant’s heart for others, has been staying around for more than a heartbeat. She’s finding herself, getting comfortable with who she is and what family means.
I’m glad Hannah was willing to share her shoes. Even more, though, I’m grateful she’s decided to trust us enough to become her real self — not the person the world has told her she should be, but the person she was made to be.
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