Empty Shoes

About the Artwork

“I took a walk at lunch one day and saw these shoes next to the imprints in the concrete. I wondered who had worn these shoes, where they were, and thought about all the lives lost during the pandemic.”

Deborah Pierce is a clinical associate professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester, NY and a frequent Pulse contributor. “I photograph as a way to reconnect with the world; what I see frequently helps me process the emotions of my world.”


2 thoughts on “Empty Shoes”

  1. Without your caption under the photo, I just saw the shoes, empty shoes, set as if they were ready to be stepped back into by someone who walked in them daily. My mind flashed back to my husband’s shoes, set just like that but on the floor by the closet where he would put them on again in the morning. But he wouldn’t that next morning. He had gone to the hospital the day before and died there. Unexpectedly and tragically, he went in walking and talking and came out dead, a terrible tragedy, a medical mismanagement. It’s a long story that still pulls at my heart. But back to the shoes. The funeral director had said he needed a pair of his shoes to put on inside the casket, as well as a full suit of clothes. I looked at those shoes on the floor in our room, suddenly realizing he would never be back home to put them on again. My next thought: Save them for our son. He would need them as he grew. He was only almost 10 then, but he would soon grow like his dad and the shoes would be needed. Well, then I realized, times would change. He likely would not need his father’s shoes by the time his feet would be that size. And again, that hollow sadness, his father would not be putting them on again either in this life. Still, it was very hard to hand them on to the funeral home the next day and realize I would never see him wear them again. I’d never see him again. Profound sadness. Empty shoes. Empty room. Empty arms. Emptiness. Only memories. Thanks be to God for memories.

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