Book Excerpt

My dad used to say if someone was particularly lucky or blessed, they were “dipped in it.” If I pulled out some unexpected victory, he’d shake his head with a grin, and emphasize each word as he said, “Bethany Anne, you are Dipped. In. It.” Dipped in what, specifical- ly? I had no idea, but in these moments, I felt golden.

Though one of the humblest men I’ve ever known, my father always knew he was dipped in it. He would say it about me often, too, and I believed him. I was.

But am I still?

As morning creeps in, I lie here thinking about the past few years of my life. I realize that this breaking open I am experiencing has been building for years. My father’s death was the final blow. I know finding myself here in pieces is an entirely human experienceIt is also an entirely uncomfortable one. I am exhausted. Steeped in sadness. I am often lonely even while surrounded by love.

How do people do this? How do they feel all of this and survive? I long to find my way back to the person I was before the cracks began to form. I wonder if I could even relate to her anymore. Mem- ory paints her light as a feather—and here I am, dragging around my anvil collection.

I will my legs over the side of the bed, toes searching for the well-worn, cozy shearling of my father’s slippers. I look down at this priceless inheritance—coffee stained, with an errant thread threaten- ing to disembowel one slipper with a mere tug. I shoved them into my overnight bag the morning after the funeral, obscuring them beneath a sea of black, as if I would be searched on the way out. As if I’d be caught and shamed for attempting to abscond with a precious family heirloom. In the end I confessed that I was taking them, feeling a pang of guilt that this revelation came as a statement and not a question. I worried for a moment that my mother would try to pass off to me instead, the pristine pair he’d been given days ago for Christmas. I suspect she looked at me and understood that those would never do. Because these slippers—these warm and messy and perfect slippers—were what I needed to arm myself with that morning, as I walked out of his house and into a world that was shamelessly carrying on without him.

Two months have passed since that day, and putting my feet into these slippers each morning has become a necessary ritual for me. I am sure he would make a joke about me “walking in his shoes.” It’s really more of a shuffle because they are way too big. That would be funny to him, too. His shoes are literally too big for me to fill.

I try.