The Breaking Point

Yesterday was a breaking point.

Literally. I left the shards of porcelain scattered on my basement floor. I didn’t have it in me to clean them up. Probably because I couldn’t easily clean up everything else that shattered yesterday as well.

I heard the crash from upstairs and immediately knew. I didn’t have to look, and I really didn’t want to. My son was downstairs at the desk playing an interactive video game with friends online. He can sometimes get a little excited, banging on or shaking the desk. On the top shelf of that desk is a plate from my wedding, signed by all the guests, which my sister-in-law lovingly decorated and had fired.

Or, I should say, the plate was sitting on top of the desk.

That plate survived almost eighteen years of marriage, three moves, countless dustings, and even more countless basement shenanigans like games of catch, wrestling, mattress gymnastics, and remote-controlled helicopters. But there it was. The record of whom we shared our special day with. A memento that bore the handwriting of loved ones we have since lost: my father-in-law, our grandparents, my uncle, Kurt’s aunt. It was shattered on the floor.

Immediately, my son apologized, saying he didn’t mean it. He didn’t realize. He barely moved at all, and it just fell.

In what was one of my signature stellar parenting moments, I told him he destroyed something special that could never be replaced all because he was too serious about a stupid video game. He screamed, “I know! I ruined your life!” Then he ran upstairs. I didn’t follow. I let him think he ruined my life.

But he didn’t ruin it. He just precipitated the tangible symbol of a day where things seemed to be shattering one after the other.

The wee hour disturbances that shattered any promise of sleep.

The news of destruction and murder that not only shattered the lives directly affected, but will also now be used by some to shatter the credibility of a worthy fight.

The conversation that shattered the hope for the recovery of a sweet neighbor’s health.

The social media post that shattered my ability to give a sh*t about something that has long brought me joy.

The encounter that shattered my comfort with easing out of social distancing restrictions.

The email that shattered my rose-colored glasses, forcing me to realize I have been stupid, refusing to see what I didn’t want to because I had foolishly inserted too much of myself into something I wasn’t meant to.

The world…it just feels…shattered.

I could try to whip this piece into a hopeful one. Talk about how we will attempt to put that plate back together. Or how I did finally console my tearful son, telling him I loved him more than a plate, and he didn’t ruin anything.

But sometimes things just need to be shattered. We aren’t meant to hold everything together forever. Our planet may even one day shatter into a billion cosmic bits. But often, the truth is revealed when things fall apart, after being encased and occluded within a seemingly perfect facade. It’s not always a comfortable truth, but knowing truth is the only way to move through or move with something that is shattered.

Maybe the pieces can be mended. Maybe they can come together to create something new. Maybe they need to be thrown away. Or maybe they simply remain shattered pieces, as a reminder of what they once were but can never be again.

For now, my plate remains in pieces. And so does everything else that shattered yesterday. I’m at a loss for how to mend any of them.

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Image: “Shattering My Hopes and Dreams” by ahockley is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

3 thoughts on “The Breaking Point

  1. Kelly, I sit here in tears. Know for some, life has always been shattered. We were born into it. You always hear that life is unfair, but some come to see how unfair it really is for some who aren’t born like them. I am sorry for your plate, but you are right hold on to your son, because he is what came out of that beautiful celebration. Property is tangible, he is not. Shattered gives us a chance to replace and do better with something else. It may not be as good as the other, but we can only hope and pray for something better. You have already grown by feeling and realizing that something is broken besides your plate. And that “something” is more important. I pray that more will come to see and feel like you. Thanks for making my day.

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    1. “For some, life has always been shattered. We were born into it.” Thank you for this. I wish I had been more cognizant of this sooner, more compassionate. And your comment points to something very important…that so many terrible things NEED to shatter…deserve to shatter…in order to help repair the things that should have never shattered. I truly appreciate your thoughts. I want to do better.

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