After her sister died of cancer, Amber Jones met her sister's inspiration, Robin Roberts
Posted in , Feb 1, 2019
I settled into my seat in the audience at Good Morning America and stared down at the shoes I was wearing. My little sister’s shoes. Emily had died eight months earlier, a slow, painful death from cervical cancer. I had inherited her gray, slip-on Converse sneakers with white laces. I loved those shoes. I hated them too. Every time I put them on, I was reminded that I wouldn’t see my sister or hold her again for a long, long time.
Emily and I hadn’t been close growing up. We were opposites. She was the type to jump up in the morning and start her day, with GMA on the TV. I liked nothing better than a quiet morning with coffee and Scripture. When she got sick, I flew from New York to her home in Louisiana to care for her. As if the Lord and his love were working through me, our differences melted away, and all I felt for Emily was love.
That made her passing all the more devastating. I looked at her shoes and thought about how she’d suffered. How young she had been—34. About the children she’d left behind. I thought about how much I missed her, how I just wanted to feel her presence again.
Going to a taping of GMA had topped Emily’s bucket list. Emily had drawn hope from anchor Robin Roberts, a two-time cancer survivor. It was more than just celebrity. Emily had felt a spiritual connection to Robin. I’d scored tickets to a show featuring the singer Mandisa, whose music video for “Overcomer” had inspired my sister during her illness.
I just wanted to wear Emily’s shoes to the show and glimpse her two heroes, my way of living her dream for her. As soon as Robin Roberts stepped on set, I felt Emily’s excitement rush through me, pushing up from her shoes. Oh, sister. This is it! I thought.
At the first commercial break, Robin mingled with the audience. Maybe I can get a picture with our shoes, I thought. I maneuvered my way through the crowd until, suddenly, I was standing in front of her. “I’m here in my little sister’s shoes,” I said. “She died of cancer eight months ago. You were her absolute hero. Can I take a picture with you?”
Robin’s eyes filled with tears. “Thank you for sharing that with me,” she said, pulling me to her. “God bless you. Of course, we can take a picture.” I sat down again, my heart full. Robin Roberts now knew Emily in some mystical way, two souls connected in the wide world. It was so much more than I could have hoped for.
At the next commercial break, I heard my name being called. It was Robin. She wanted to introduce me to Mandisa. I was dumbstruck. “Your music meant so much to my sister,” I said, and told Mandisa her story. Mandisa began to cry, saying, “My best friend died of cancer last year.” As we took a picture together, I hugged her for my sister—and for those of us who are left behind.
I went back to my seat. At the next break, Robin called to me again. “I want the whole world to hear the story of your sister’s shoes,” she said. My protests caught in my throat. The camera flashed live, and Robin introduced me and my sister’s story to the world. All those people, connected to her.
Then, as Mandisa sang, Robin hugged me to her side. “Your sister would be so proud of you,” she said. I left the studio feeling a little lighter in my sister’s shoes. Though I could no longer see or hold her, I knew her spirit endured. As had the love between us. I felt it with every step I took.
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