Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Shattering Stories

 Shattering stories, dashing hopes, smashing dreams, stomping on possibilities.

We are living in what feels like this whirlwind of movement that only leaves destruction in its wake,

So it is somewhat fitting that this morning, my husband, in his big former linebacker elegance and grace was whizzing through the library to kiss me goodbye on his way to an early meeting, gym bag and briefcase haphazardly on his shoulder, when in less than two seconds, he whirled around and hit the cabinet with my carefully curated mug collection and before either of us could stop the impending disaster, two of them catapulted to the hardwood flood and shattered in several pieces, the force of his gait and the velocity of the wind in that turn made this an impossible-to-safe-situation.

"Ohhh, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."

"I would clean that up."

"I don't have time."

He hugged me in remorse as he almost ran out the door to our garage, the clock ticking on his day.

I sat at the kitchen counter table just stunned.

Felt that in my gut.

Sadness. Emptiness. Vacuum.

Memories of when I got them, one, granted was a small run I bought by a great woman artist who got some of her artwork in the stores, it was just a cool one testament of my "Mom Day" life at the time.

The other was a carefully chosen one from an art fair when I used to live in St. Louis when I spoke directly to the artist who has a similar affinity to coffee as I do, a kindred connection. 

It was one of the first ones I bought when we moved there from the Kansas City area, so it is fourteen years old.


So I lamented.

Yes, these are just material things.

Yes, I have enough to rival a coffee shop.

Yes, they mean something to me.

Yes, I am drinking from a cool mug now.

Yes, I can go almost a year and not drink out of the same mug twice.

Yes to all the yes.

And yet, I was left with the vacuum of sudden and unexpected loss of something that mattered to me, that held meaning for me, that was a container of stories, and represented culture to me.

So I let it sit there.

The rubble will be unmistakable from either side of my house, if you come in through the side door and make that little turn and step up into the hardwood floor open floor kitchen or if you come in through the custom glass double front doors to the hardwood foray and make that little turn to meet me near the sunroom, you will meet the brokenness.

I am not in a rush to clean it up.

It may stay there all day.


Letting me feel all that I feel about the loss.

I moved the other latte mugs to the other side of my coffee station, away from harm, surrounded by others like them that just six feet on the other side of the open doorframe from the library, sit other equally displayed mugs with equally as cherished and important stories. Some of them are thirty years old, All of them are curated and all irreplaceable.

So it had me thinking this morning about the state of affairs we are in now.

I was recovering from my first cold in two years for the past two days, so my life has mostly been herbal tea, water, and snuggles under a blanket in a state of near consciousness as my immune system fought off this forgotten invader. It was in a state of somewhat wakefulness that I decided to scroll into the world and see what I missed.

With horror, I saw the bombings and buildings in rumble, where people lived and had hopes and dreams.

Then it was was sheer terror that I read of the intentional destruction of artifacts representing a culture's presence going back to the 5th century. Obliterated.

These items could not be moved to the other side of the room to a more secure location.

They were targeted.

No one could save them, could not catch them before churches were destroyed and libraries were crumbling.

And it has me thinking about the tenacity of terrorism.

Now, I've also watched with equal horror the mistreatment of the ones who were deemed to not be like them, in escaping terror, they were further assaulted by the isms that plague this life. 

But it was something in seeing antiquity targeted with all attempts to annihilate any memory that has me hearing the collective gasp and the deep lament of those who preserve culture for the future.

Like I did this morning.

No, these coffee mugs, only two, are not part of some world renowned collection of a people trying to preserve their heritage. No, they are simply my memories and for both of them, the dreams of women who took their gifts to create something beautiful for others to enjoy.

They won't impact the world.

They won't have white glove archivists trying to piece them back together.

They will just have my sadness and my husband's regret, for a while.

I will do something with them, maybe find a mosaic artist who can create something out of the shattered pieces, but I will not just toss them out.

Neither will those preserving their lives in the midst of terror.

They will find a way to hold onto and keep what is precious, even if is only what fits in a satchel, their memories will restore what hate can never destroy.

Even when the rest of the world stops tuning in to the news cycle because there will be something else, like the coffee shop owner yesterday who talked about inflation and gas prices. "Those are out of our control, but being decent human beings to each other is something we can do, right?" 

He was a nice guy from Brooklyn, he and his wife ran the daytime café in New Haven. It has beautiful displays of the butterflies indigenous to each of the coffee regions.

Those who experience the world unsettling beneath them, the numbing uncertainty of what will happen next, there is no quick picking-up-the-pieces.

For them, it sits for moments and moments.

So I am thinking about them, this morning.

How many in fleeing danger in homes or from nature have had to watch with the incapacity to save it, all that was precious to them become dust and debris?

It makes us uncomfortable, if we are honest.

To deal with someone's sadness.

To sit with loss.

To lament what can not be replaced.

Our quick fix, quick run, quick scroll life does not afford us that.

Like my husband in his unintentional quick turn this morning, we have to rush on to the next thing with no time to stop, just a hurried, "Oooh, I'm so sorry" as we dash out the door, we all move on from that which hurts.

But what if we sat with it?

And felt it?

And absorbed it?

And lamented it?

What if we gave it the due honor it deserves?

What if we let ourselves feel what we feel?

And not try to brush it off as if it didn't matter?

What if we let it sit in the atmosphere for a while for all to see what hurt so they will know the reason for the downcast eyes, the dazed look, the tears in the corner of the eyes.

And what if in stopping to notice, to not step over the destruction, that we stop, and pause, and take in a deep breathe of remembering, appreciating, and cherishing the loss.

Maybe it will make us a bit better, a bit more understanding, a bit more compassionate.

Yes some of these things are simply inanimate objects, but to others, like people born on the water who had to leave their worlds behind, it held deep spiritual connections to the essence of who they were, and they have to figure out how to move forward without the evidence of their existence.

But they will rebuild.

Like so many before and after.  

The people will remember.

And the memory holds boldly, defiantly, preparing to renew itself.

Like my mugs, they will reform, not in the way I held them and benefited from them, but refurbished with something beautiful being born from the pieces, like beauty from ashes.

What I know is that what was meant to tear them down will not succeed.

If we refuse to let it.

The collective we.

We can not and will not let it simply fade away.

Because even shattered stories tell a tale.


©2022 by Antona B. Smith, Taye Foster Bradshaw Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved


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