What Do I Do With His Shoes?

Last year I didn’t bother putting in my air conditioners… there were only a few days that were hot enough that it bothered me – and I really don’t like the heat.  The cool weather is one reason I love living in Maine.

Today, however, I’ve had it with what’s turned out to be a summer of upper 80s to lower 90s days, and just installed the air conditioner designated for the master bedroom. It has presented a dilemma, however.

I had to move the bench that sits in front of the window that the A/C goes in. Under that bench is where Johnny always left his shoes & steel toed boots. It never looked pretty but I didn’t care. That was the easiest place for him to have access to them (we have a walk-in closet but it’s crammed full), and his comfort was more important than any girly sense of fashion that I might have had.

Anyway, I had to move that bench to put the air conditioner in.  And the sneakers, Doc Martin dress shoes, and two pairs of steel-toed boots (one pair barely worn) that have sat there untouched for over a year and a half.

So the dilemma… I could just move John’s shoes back under the bench which is now at the foot of the bed.  Or I could box them up and put them in storage. Or, I could just suck it up, get rid of his worn out sneakers, and donate the rest.

I’m pretty sure he would tell me to get rid of them, but it seems such a slippery slope. If I donate the shoes, what’s next? His shirts, or his underwear? (I’ve been wearing his socks in the winter.) And his tooth brush that’s still next to mine in the bathroom?

My husband is dead.  He believed he could come back to me if he died, and he has proved that he can, and that he has.  However, he will never come back in the body I knew and loved so well.  He will never be able to wear those shoes again.  Or his button down shirts (he hated what he thought was the sloppy look of t-shirts, especially those with logos on them), or the Calvin Klein underwear I bought him (I got rid of his tightie whities shortly after he moved in).

The reality is that I would recognize my husband anywhere… he doesn’t need the shoes, the clothing, the toothbrush, any of it, to make him John.  I would recognize him because we were so very connected that my anger and fear over his self-destructive tendencies couldn’t unravel it; not even his death by his own hand could break that bond.

So why then?  Perhaps because I believe – like in the Cinderella story – that there really is only one person who can fill those shoes.


In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.

My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting demons no one else could see.  I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the demons got the better of him.

The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1.  Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.

Fair winds and following seas, Husband.


We now have a group on Facebook to help find resources, support and ideas for getting The Warrior Project off the ground.  You can find us there at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thewarriorproject/

Follow us on Twitter!  @WarriorProjME.

We’re also on MeetUp; search Lewiston Grief Support MeetUp.

Help support The Grief Warrior Project by making purchases from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps.  All profits (after expenses) go to helping keep our doors open.  You can find Heritage Collectibles at  https://heritagecollectiblesmaine.com, on Facebook (both a group and a page) and on Twitter (HeritageGifts).

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