Someone Else’s Shoes

Tamara Tasker, MSN, RN
Assistant Professor, Nursing

On a chilly day in November of 2019 I was sitting in my office “stressing out” about how far I was behind in my grading. I decided to count to ten and do some deep breathing exercises when the telephone rang. The caller ID told me that it was the office downstairs calling. I really thought about letting the call go to voicemail. However, something in me moved my hand to the receiver and I found myself saying, “Hello, this is Professor Tasker.”

The kind voice on the other end of the receiver said that there was a student requesting to see me. I paused. The kind voice whispered, “She looks visibly upset.” I gathered my thoughts and asked for the kind voice to send the student upstairs to my office.

I met the student, let’s call her Bonnie, at the outer door of the office suite. Bonnie’s eyes were red and glistening with tears, her shoulders were hunched, and she had on two different shoes. I invited her in with a small smile and gentle voice. We both entered my office and Bonnie requested that I shut the door. Once we sat down, she broke down.

Bonnie shared her story: a single mom of two young children, a parent who had just been placed on hospice, a few months late with the rent and presented with an eviction notice, served the last pieces of bread as toast to her children that morning for breakfast, and she had not eaten a real meal in several days because her children eat first. She was embarrassed that she was in such a hurry this morning she had worn two different shoes and did not notice until she walked in to class.

Bonnie and I must have talked for an hour, even finding ways to laugh throughout the conversation. We both even managed to laugh about her mismatched shoes. I made several phone calls on her behalf and ended up walking her to the StarZone to meet with a counselor.

We never spoke of it again. Bonnie graduated in May of this year. Just a few weeks ago I journeyed back to LCC to my office to pick up some materials to use over the summer. On my desk was a card that had been mailed to me. I opened it up to find a nice thank you note with a picture inside. That picture was of a brand new pair of shoes that matched. The note read, “Thank you for taking the time to walk with me in my shoes. I made it!”