NOTE: This weeks Guest blog is something a little different as Frankie has chosen to write an ‘update’ on the well-known poem ‘An Ugly Pair of Shoes’ to try and reflect the experience of a ‘rainbow baby’ mum in a slightly different way.
You can also find the original poem is here: https://www.lilymaefoundation.org/2017/03/30/ugly-pair-shoes/
A Less Ugly Pair of Shoes
I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes, although less ugly than they used to be.
They were horribly uncomfortable initially – I was desperate to swap them for the shoes I’d been so looking forward to wearing.
Years on these shoes are quite worn in but every now and then they still pinch and rub like in those early days.
I have a love/hate relationship with these shoes.
Every day I wear them for they are mine and I am theirs.
On first glance people often admire my shoes.
They look fabulous from far away, but if you examine them closely you’ll see the ugliness that lies underneath.
Then the funny looks can come.
I can tell in other’s eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
People think they’re being polite by not making reference to the ugly parts – maybe they think if they brush over the fact these exist or pretend they haven’t seen them that they will magically disappear and they’ll never have to even remember that they saw the ugliness in the first place.
To learn how awful these shoes can be might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them, and I would not wish that on anyone.
For once you put them on, you can never take them off.
You come to realise that you don’t want to either – that would mean forgetting the precious little person who earned you this pair – I am strangely grateful for these shoes when I think of her, for to not have these shoes at all would mean that she would never have existed.
Onlookers often remark on how colourful, sparkly, wonderful the nice bits are – some even say how lucky I am that I can cover over the unsightly foundation, with no idea of how hard it can be to carry the extra weight, the burden of responsibility that comes with maintaining the façade of beauty whilst honouring the true nature of the shoes underneath.
They have no empathy for the pain these shoes can still cause me – when it flares up it makes me wish I could take them off, have a break, dare I say even swap them – yet I am told to focus on the gratitude I feel for the less ugly parts.
I am fully aware that I am not the only one who wears shoes like these.
There are many pairs in the world; many as unique, special, and as complicatedly and haphazardly held together as mine.
Some women are like I once was and ache daily as they try and learn to walk in them.
Some have learned even better than I how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long and learnt to cope so well with the pain that days will go by before they think of how much they hurt.
I often feel undeserving of the unique embellishments to my shoes; eager to meet others who understand both the joy and the guilt that comes with being granted the privilege of adorning the ugly shoes underneath.
I fear that I am unworthy of anything but the hideous pair I was first issued with.
But then I remember that I never asked for these shoes, yet I put them on and bravely continue to wear them all the same.
I embrace every part of them; I am proud of the ugly parts just as much as the rest.
These shoes have given me strength, they have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child, but been courageous enough to carry on, had hope even in the depths of despair, and who has been fortunate enough to have been rewarded with the most beautiful ugly pair of shoes you could ever own.
Frankie Brunker is author of the children’s book These Precious Little People (https://preciouslittlepeople.wixsite.com/preciouslittlepeople), a beautifully illustrated not-for-profit collaboration with artist Gillian Gamble and charity Joel The Complete Package for families affected by the death of a baby during pregnancy, or shortly after birth. She writes about the grief she’s experienced following the death of her first baby, her daughter Esme, her pregnancies after loss and the ups and downs of being a mother to three children but with only two that she gets to watch grow up. You can follow her on Instagram @thesepreciouslittlepeople or on her blog here: https://preciouslittlepeople.wixsite.com/preciouslittlepeople/blog and buy copies of These Precious Little People (including to donate to hospitals/support groups and request dedications in memory of a little one gone too soon) here: bit.ly/Precious_Little_People
Frankie is also a 2019 Finalist Nominee at this years Butterfly Awards in the Author/Blogger category. For more information on these awards you can find it here https://finleysfootprints.com/the-butterfly-awards/