I wanted it to be worthy of him. As if anything would have been worthy of him. As if anything could say to the world, this was my friend. Magnificent. Brilliant. Generous.

I wanted it to be worthy of him and found myself angered when the cell phones rang during the service, when the camera spotlight glared in my face, when the pastor proselytized a faith shoes didn’t believe in to his family that did not practice it.

And where the funeral could never have been worthy, there were so many parts, taken in isolation…taken in context…taken in the spirit shoes would have taken them…that were.

B standing alone and comfortable in the pulpit, leaning his 6’4 frame slightly to the left, gently unfolding his friendship with shoes into tangible terms we could all grasp. His numerous accomplishments. Anecdotes highlighting his kindness, his dedication, his human-ness. In the moments when B’s soft voice shared the interiors of their friendship I could see my friend beyond the wooden box that crowded the center aisle.

Shoe’s parents gifting the offering taken on their behalf back to the church was worthy. His parents donating his body to science. His mother flitting between reception tables spooning out extra food to attendants. Comforting those of us unable to hold back the sadness. Those things were all worthy.

my initial rage was eventually quelled when I, laughing with shoes’ friends – now mine, realized he would have been laughing… probably was. When I realized that the tribute to shoes was in all of us gathered, in all of us determined to remember his work and bring it forward.

At the hospital, after lying beside him and softly singing to her son as he died, seetha came out to comfort his friends and told them, “now you are his hands.” The work that he would have done – and there is so much work he was doing – we must now take up and do.

Shoes’ casket was wheeled down the aisle to the steps that look out over kampala. People milled past the open casket, sometimes eye averted other times eyes glued to the small battered body that was our friend.

But more than the remains of him, or even the smiling face on the framed photo set atop his casket, I like to think of shoes in the fleeting moment when his casket was closed and his mother spoke softly and kissed where his head rested below, his father standing close by. No service, no speech, was more worthy than that.

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3 Comments on missing shoes

  1. katrina says:


  2. Aunt Linda says:

    Such a beautiful and loving tribute to a beautiful and loving soul! My heart overflows for this young man and his family and friends but is sooo uplifted by his family and friends!!! God Bless and may his soul ascend to God’s realm. And we are all blessed by his friends continuing his work and good deeds, in their own ways.

  3. RedMango says:

    Very nice post!

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