The Shattered Vase: A Reflection of my Broken Life

I held the broken piece of pottery in my hand as tears streamed down my face. The shattered vase was all I had left of her. She had molded the smooth sides of the vase with her hands on the pottery wheel. Her hands had tucked the wet clay into ovals at the top. She had let the blue paint drip down the sides melting into the gray at the base of the vessel. Now it was in pieces, the dark red clay showing through the broken parts–shattered–just like my life. I began to sob, my face contorting into an ugly cry, I  clutched the piece, now jagged, instead of smooth, and fell to the ground as I murmured over and over again, “This was all I had left. This was all I had left.”

It started out as an ordinary Saturday for a couple of empty nesters. I was upstairs in the bedroom folding laundry, when I heard the crash. I came running down the stairs to make sure my husband was okay. He was standing in the living room with a guilty look upon his face. Then, I saw it:  the larger of a matching set of clay vases that Emily had made for me, shattered on the ground. The two pieces of pottery had been perched on a small round table in the living room; a tribute to the daughter I lost. Emily had made those beautiful objects, just for me, with the colors of the living room I designed in mind. They were a special gift to me on my 49th birthday. Now the larger of the two was in pieces on the wooden floor. My husband had been repairing one of the legs of a chair, when he accidentally knocked it over.

“I’m sorry….” he stammered, obviously at a loss for words. My reaction was involuntary. I fell to ground, as if I had just heard that Emily died all over again. I was right back to moment where I crumpled down by her dead body, screaming out that I loved her over and over again.

Only I was still in my house and Emily was not there. I somehow crawled my way back upstairs and laid on the bedroom floor. The one thought I couldn’t get out of my mind was: that was all I had left of her–the vases she made just for me. I cried for what seemed like hours, but in reality it was probably less than twenty minutes. I then picked myself up and continued to complete the Saturday chores. My husband hesitantly approached me, telling me again that it was unintentional. I knew that, of course and could never hold it against him. 

It struck me as I looked around my house that day—at her paintings on the wall, the spoon rest she made for me in the kitchen and her clay teapot on the shelf, that she crafted with her own hands—that none of these objects would last forever, just like my daughter. All would soon be lost, to decay or destruction—just like each and every one of us. 

While I cherish the memories of my daughter, they won’t last beyond my lifetime either. There is no holding on to these objects or our memories. Ashes to ashes… dust to dust… it is true of each and every one of us and all possessions we cherish. Life is a lesson in letting go of everything we hold dear. 

It’s taken me months to process this incident and my emotions surrounding it. I see the vase made by my beautiful daughter’s hands as a reflection of my shattered life. If we are honest, we are all living broken lives and we all must let go of everything, eventually. We have no other choice. 

Faith, Hope & Courage,