To the Man Selling His Dead Baby's Shoes,

First of all, let me say that I'm sorry that your baby died. Losing a child is an unspeakable tragedy no parent should have to endure and I cannot even begin to imagine the pain you are feeling. You have my sincerest and deepest condolences.

Now, sir, at this point, you may be wondering, “How does this stranger know that my child died?” It's a fair question and it really gets to the purpose of this open letter. The truth is I discovered your most unfortunate circumstances when I was flipping through my morning paper and ended up in the Classifieds. Besides sports, it's my favorite section to peruse, as you never know what you might stumble upon.

But as familiar as I am with the Classifieds Section, I must admit I was surprised when I stumbled upon your ad: “For Sale. Baby shoes, never worn.” On the surface: short, concise, and to the point. But under the concise copy lies a dark and harrowing tale of loss. And after much reflection on the ad, I have decided to sum up all of my thoughts by simply asking: Why?

To be clear: I have no interest in buying these shoes myself. I don't have a child but even if I did, I doubt I would want to buy the shoes that were meant to be for your dead baby. I mean, look at that sentence I just wrote and really reflect on it. Your child is no longer living. I would imagine this is the hardest thing you have ever faced—and perhaps will ever face—in your life.

With that in mind, what on earth caused you to decide that the appropriate response to this tragedy was selling your dead baby's shoes in the local newspaper? Are trying to make a profit or is this some strange form of mourning? I can't imagine the store you bought them from would have any issue giving you a full refund if you explained what happened. But instead, you have decided to try and sell them. Once again, I must ask, why?

And while we are discussing your decision to put your dead baby's shoes back on the market rather than donating them or simply giving them to someone, I would be remiss if I didn't ask about your choice of wording in the ad itself. “For Sale. Baby shoes, never worn”? I can't tell if you were trying to be clever, hoping to mislead readers, or simply were saving money on the ad's word-count but don't you feel like maybe you owe it to any potential buyers to let them know about your unique circumstances as a seller?

I mean, can you imagine if someone didn't understand the underlying implication and bought the shoes without realizing the shoes they just bought for their soon-to-be child were supposed to belong to a baby who kicked the bucket before they could ever try them on? I don't think they'd be too pleased with you.

Lastly, the fact that your ad only mentions shoes does force me to wonder what you are doing with the rest of your deceased child's stuff. I mean, surely you didn't only buy baby shoes. In fact, shoes seem like they would be late on the list of things expecting parents buy for their kids.

So where is the rest of the stuff? Should I be expecting to find other items listed one by one over the next several weeks? Or are you planning to have a massive dead baby yard sale where people will have the chance to buy a crib that was “never slept in” or a bottle that was “never sucked on?”

Again, I apologize if my questions have reopened any wounds. I know this is none of my business but it really is the strangest Classifieds ad I have ever seen in all my years of reading. Perhaps all of this was some kind of cry for help or simply an attempt to scream into the void to remind yourself that despite the pain and emptiness you feel, you are still alive and life must go on.

With that in mind, I hope you find whatever peace or closure that you are likely searching for. Or at the very least, I hope you find someone to buy the shoes.


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