There’s never a convenient time to break a dish, but especially when preparing to cook dinner.
I reached into the backseat of my car into my duffle bag to find something to blow my nose on. Tears poured down my face and my chest hurt deeply for my best friend facing her first Mother’s Day without her precious mama. And it hurt a little deeper for precious friends who were also facing the day without theirs.
This was a hurt I knew. I remember my first Father’s Day fatherless. I sat on one of my best friend’s front porches and wept on his shoulder. I kept asking him how in the world I could ever face more Father’s Days. I knew my friend would probably go to sleep that night with a pillow full of tears as would a handful of my other friends wishing they could buy their mama flowers. That tearful pillow was not just something I could imagine, it was a feeling I knew all too well.
I was trying to cook dinner tonight after a pretty long day at work with lots of questions swimming in my head. I reached to grab a cutting board to chop up some ginger and garlic when a glass dish fell and shattered all over my kitchen floor.
I froze for a second (which is my typical stress response) then grabbed a broom and began sweeping up each and every piece, amazed at how tiny shattered pieces found their way in each nook and cranny of my kitchen. In one hand, I was thankful no one was hurt, especially the three baby kittens that have found residence in my laundry room (We’ll talk about it later). I was thankful no one was about to come over and that I didn’t have a living room full of guests, but that thankfulness lasted for about a minute. I was frustrated, not to mention hungry that I could not even cook a meal without something going wrong. And this just was not the best time for my kitchen floor to be covered with glass.
As I swept pieces big and small into a dustpan all over my kitchen, I thought of how tired I can feel of cleaning up messes. Yes, physical ones at times but so much more messes in my heart. I am tired of weepy drives when I struggle to see the road through the puddles of tears crossing South Carolina state lines, wishing with all my heart when I saw the beautiful state flag flying I didn’t think of the one handed to me next to the casket that held my Daddy’s body.
And the inconvenient grief can hurt the worst. This week I stood with my coworkers in an activity that was supposed to be fun and exciting that for me required choking back tears. I’m just tired of explaining why things are hard or triggering. I’m tired of jumping when I hear certain cadences of beeps in a nearby printer because it reminds me of machines in the hospital that I pretended to understand to fathom together some hope of my Dad surviving.
I’m tired of holding the broken with the blessed. Of receiving sweet sweet blessings, that somehow prove themselves to be the tipping point that knock my mended heart off the counter and back into a million pieces.
The inconvenient grief is often unexpected. The moments of pure bliss and joy, of answered prayers, knowing there’s a presence missing in the room. Of still trying to call him after two years to talk through those questions swimming in my brain.
There’s never a convenient time to be broken. To hurt and to grieve. But sometimes the shoe drops, even in the sweetest moments, and the pieces of hurt and reminders of loss scatter deeper and wider than you could have imagined, making the cleaning more detailed and time consuming.
Because glass will always be breakable and we are too, but some of the best dinners are served in glass dishes.
A few summers ago I was rushing to a work dinner when I hit a curb, causing my tire to deflate. A dear friend and his family pulled up in their van right behind me for the same dinner. As he began replacing the deflated tire on my car with my spare, his two oldest daughters came up to me. The oldest began asking questions of how this happened, how it could be fixed, and if all cars traveled with an extra tire in case you hit a curb? But the younger came and stood by my side and in every bit of her six year old wisdom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Hey Emily Katherine, I’m sorry your car is hurt.”
And I’ve learned these are my two options in those unexpectedly hard moments- to question or to lean in. To either ask why in the world this had to happen or why ofall moments this had to be the one for me to be upset, or to let myself have the tenderness of my six year old friend, Selah, and just admit that I’m sorry things are the way they are, whether that’s a shattered dish on the kitchen floor at diner time, a hard moment of fighting back tears at work, or a Mother’s Day without a mama.