You never know.

It used to be a happy memory: Mommy taking me shopping for shoes.

I was invited to someone’s birthday party and I wanted a pair of black patent-leather Mary Janes to wear with my new dress. So there I sat in the store, in a big grown-up chair, with a man kneeling in front of me like I was a princess. He was going to bring me shoes, but first he had to get my size.

He put my foot in a big metal thingie, and then he and Mommy had a long, boring discussion before they turned to me as one. What a lucky girl you are, they told me; you get to wear cookies in your shoes!

I pictured chocolate chip. I didn’t see how they’d be in my shoes for long.

I was right about the last part. After my mother died, the fact that I needed arch supports was one of the many balls my father let drop. I spent the rest of my life walking uncorrected on malformed toe joints. Now, decades later, guess what? Foot surgery!

I’m not complaining; as these things go, it was a breeze. Recovery went smoothly, results exceed my hopes, I feel really lucky. I’m especially grateful to the doctor, but that didn’t stop me from wasting a moment of her time with a hypothetical:

So if I’d been wearing arch supports since the age of five, would I have needed this surgery today?

She paused to consider the matter. Probably not, she said.

On the other hand, you never know.