The ruby slippers were a gift for Mia around Christmastime, a year and a half ago. They were a shiny, deep, dark red, and a little big on my then 3-year-old's feet. She loved them.
Winter blossomed into spring, and she wore them everywhere: at school, through the rain, and while playing dress up. Spring shimmered into summer, and still she danced in the ruby slippers; in the hot summer sun, at the park or at the pool, she wore her ruby slippers faithfully. Summer buzzed into fall, and Mia's feet were growing, but the ruby slippers stayed put -- they matched with nothing and everything at the same time.
Another Christmas surrounded us, and an entire year had passed with the ruby-red shoes on Mia's feet. The shoes had seemed to shrink -- their shimmering ruby patina was scuffed -- but they were mandatory with most outfits. While other shoes of the same size had long been tossed aside for being too small, too pinchy, the ruby slippers were declared to be still perfect.
Mia loved her ruby slippers.
On a day not very long ago, she put them on again, not even needing to look at the straps in order to clasp them correctly. She stood up in her blue and white plaid skirt. She took a few steps. Her long hair fell over her face as she looked down. And she stopped.
The shoes were too small. Finally outgrown. Or, finally admitted to being outgrown.
"Mom," she wondered, "Is it okay if I wear different shoes? These are a little too tight."
I couldn't believe it. The shoes she'd begged and pleaded to wear almost every day for eighteen months, were being given up. I assured my growing girl that she could wear whichever shoes she liked best, and she immediately got to work on finding a different pair. I watched, half in amusement, half in sadness. (Will I ever be a mom who doesn't cling to the babyhood of her children?)
Then, standing with her ruby slippers in her hands, Mia said, "I don't need these shoes anymore, right? Maybe I could offer them to Lauren." And she walked away, to find her sister.
I followed in a haze. The ruby slippers had seemed like a part of Mia, a part about to be willingly handed over to her baby sister. When she found Lauren, Mia sing-songed her way to slipping the too-big shoes onto the too-small feet. Lauren's face was lit with happiness -- her sister's ruby slippers! They wobbled on her feet, but she danced anyway. They slipped off her heels, but she sang about her new shoes. They tripped her up and unsteadied her, but she admired them in the mirror.
The ruby slippers will live on. Scuffed, worn, lovely, and beloved. And now they're even better. Now, they're infused with a sister's generosity.
I think Lauren will walk -- and dance -- a mile in Mia's ruby slippers.