Lately it seems that all around me there has been an excess of reminders of what I can’t do right now. Every siren, every fire station, every invitation from my 5 year old to join him pretending to put out fires and bandaging up stuffed animals is an acute reminder that this is the me that once was, and that is just *hard* right now.
I have never been afraid of broken things, but I am afraid of the broken me.
All my life I have been drawn to the broken. I struggled as a child to separate my deep empathy and emotions when I knew of someone hurting because I was so deeply moved with the urgent desire to help. When I was older I started using my gifts to run towards, not away from pain; feeling so at home whenever I could muddle through making someone a meal after surgery, find a heartfelt card for a grieving friend, or sit with someone who was fighting for healing. I chose a career that put me smack in the middle of broken. My blood pumped courageous every time I stood on the holy ground of loss; ashes and tears and life-breath spilled on my hands and my boots right in the midst of someone’s most broken day, and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to be there trying to help pick up the pieces.
But my own broken… why is this such a different kind of beast? I am afraid of the me that has to rely on someone else because I know I’m not strong enough. I’m disgusted at the shadow of myself that fights to get through a shower before having to lie down again. I’m terrified of the me that is dependent on machines and medicines and procedures that will completely undo me if ignored.
I suppose it’s so terrifying because it is such a stark contrast to who I once was. Fiercely independent, tenacious, resourceful, brave. I admit I am resistant to big change, and this kind of change, well it just feels the biggest.
I finally found the right kind of super glue I needed, and last weekend I began piecing together the collection of broken things in our house that have been waiting in the balance of being made like new, or finally being swept into a trash bag of forlorn and dusty pieces. A cracked pot, a chipped bowl, a tenderly crafted piece of pottery that slipped from the small hands of its creator before it even made it off the school bus. It took some trial and error to find which shattered slivers would sit nicely together with a thorough coating of the glue and a few minutes of firm pressure. Some of the pieces fit right back in, and the unsuspecting eye would never presume they had been broken. Some of the pieces were missing tiny edges and corners, and while they will never fit together in quite the same way again, as a whole they still make a beautiful thing.
I want to still be a beautiful thing too. I long for those pieces of me I’m so afraid of to be tenderly gathered and carefully fastened back together. Even if all my edges don’t quite meet right again. Even if I can’t serve the same purpose that I used to. I just want to be whole again.