I do not wear flip flops. Never has been part of my attire repertoire. Never will be. I am a high heels kind of girl. I also wear comfortable walking Shoes for the city of New York. If you wear flip flops in New York you will be stomped on. You will get back home with grimy and bloodied feet. I do will wear sandals in the summer but am cautious of where I step. I remember in college (upstate New York) we could tell who was a Californian by the mere fact that they would wear a down jacket with flip flops (or sandals).
The last time I wore flip flops was the last time my feet (and not shoes) sadly touched the sandy beaches of Puerto Rico. I travel tons to Puerto Rico for work. Whenever on business there I do not tend to make it to the beach. By constitution, I’m not a big beach person anyway so I do not feel that I miss out on much. I’m just very busy when in Puerto Rico and do not have time for beach frolicking. I far prefer getting a mojito at a hidden bar in El Viejo San Juan or a hole in the wall in Mayaguez.
Then one morning I held my son’s hand tightly and headed down to the beach. It was perhaps 7am and a bit misty. The skies were crying with me as I prepared for my mother’s funeral. I went down in the flip flops I had bought at Condado Walgreens that every one knows about. I had not had time to plan my trip and had needed to buy certain items. I had my heels and sneakers with me. I had forgotten my walking shoes.
As I strolled quietly through the beach, I thought back to the last time I saw my mother- someone who could be considered old and wise- but who remained forever 37 in my mind. I last saw her on Mother’s Day when we made a special effort to celebrate it as we feared my mom would not have long. My aunt traveled from Florida and I came in from New York. My sister acquainted us my mother’s new day-to-day living situation. So much had changed. How could a vibrant storyteller go so quickly? On that mother’s day, I bought a chocolate cake as she loved chocolate (I cannot stand it). But she could not partake. I got balloons, festive table covers and party hats. She never saw them. Happily my aunt did. In between her tears at seeing my mother’s condition she enjoyed the cake. She is a mother and we were there to honor her as well. So was I and so was my sister. I had an old photo where we were all together. In that old photo I was yet a mother. Neither was my sister. We now understood my mother’s travails. She got to see us blossom into something more than our careers.
As I strolled in my flip flops that misty morning that was what I thought of. The prickly sand reminded me of my mom’s fussiness and her resilience. I shook my head and grabbed at the sand rubbing the grains between my fingers. My mom was gone. I took the flip flops off and walked back barefoot. How does one come back from that? You just keep walking. I eventually put my high heels and black dress on and entered a new chapter in my life.