“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
In a yellow house, on the very top floor, through a door that opens into a closet, is a shelf towards the bottom of the wall.
On that shelf sits a box. A purple box. A box that normally remains unopened.
…ten perfect toes.
I had forgotten how small his feet were, the tiny black footprints on the otherwise white sheet of paper. A proclamation in themselves, really, saying…”Hey world! Here I am!” Those footprints live in the purple box…on the shelf…in the closet…in the room on the top floor of the yellow house.
“Are those Gabriel’s feet, Mama?”
I had startled at his voice, hadn’t known that he was there, peering over my shoulder. In the seconds before I answered, I absorbed the perfect angles of my four-year-old son’s face, his kind eyes, looking with open curiosity at what I held in my hands.
The footprints…from my hospital bed, I had watched my nurse make these memories, carefully smearing paint, or maybe ink, on the bottom of my second son’s feet, taking care to coat each precious toe. She then pressed a piece of paper against his feet while, with her other hand, she held his ankles and feet still. But, no…”still” is the wrong word. Because before she touched him, he was already still. Sadly, it was easy for her to get his footprints, as there was no worry about him wiggling or moving around.
My son, Julian, moved in closer to my side that day, peering into the purple box to see what other treasures he could find.
“Did you make this, Mama?”
It was a homemade baby blue thank you card with a photocopy of the footprints glued to the front.
“I did,” I finally nodded. “I made several of them.”
Julian turned away from the closet, taking the thank you card with him. He walked over to my desk, placing the card on a corner of my desk, sitting it up like a framed picture.
“Let’s just put it here, then,” he smiled, “so that it’s not hidden away in that purple box.”
And I knew in that moment, that my son, Julian, was wise…so much wiser than I could ever hope to be.
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Photo credits on Visualhunt.com. Featured image. Yellow house photo by Jokin BCN on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND.