I was upstairs.
I was contemplating trying once again to take down the “Thomas The Tank Engine” duvet cover I’ve had hanging over my window since February 11. Thomas, Percy and Friends stare at me every day, asking when I am going to let the sunshine in and allow them to go back to the Isle of Sodor.
I don’t even really like that duvet cover, but I bought it for my firstborn son when I still thought rooms should be “decorated.” It actually kind of makes me feel a little pleased with myself because I realize that have become wiser now, at least when it comes to themed rooms.
The only theme I go by now is “clean”.
But, I digress.
Digressing is my one weakness.
It’s been over the window because I can’t bear the light during the day because it hurts my eyes and sears my brain.
And every morning, I wake up and think,
This is the day Thomas comes down.
And I try and then about 30 minutes later, he is back up again.
And I am whinging in my heart that it is still so hard to bear the sunshine.Because I love sunshine.
I am not that old lady from Pollyanna! I am more like the Flora, Fauna and Merriweather from Sleeping Beauty. They like sunshine.
So I was thinking about this when I heard what sounded like a small charge of wildebeests, but was really just Abby and Ephraim, running around and chasing each other. As they giggled, I tried to smile and think of how cute they were (because that is what all the Mormon Messages do), instead of that they were going to wake up the little baby boys who were sleeping, but then the loudness ceased.
[Cue ominous music.]
[Actually, my 10 year old was practicing on his cello about now, so it really was cued in. My family has a flair for drama.]
And everyone knows what that means.
I tried to close my eyes and enjoy the somewhat dangerous sound of quiet.
And I didn’t notice when the noise started up again. Only now, they were kind of doing that giggly screaming noise right before 1) someone gets hurt, or 2) something gets broken.
Of course they were giggly screaming. Abby had taken ribbon from one of the few very nice church dresses her older sister owns and used it to tie Ephraim to Mr. Darcy.
For those who don’t know, Mr. Darcy is the name we have given our Pottery Barn style black distressed pie safe which usually holds all my sheet music, but, tragically, at this particular moment was completely empty, with the exception of two glass vases balanced on his top.
More giggling, then the sound of shattered glass.
Usually, as long as no one is hurt, I do not ever worry about glass being broken by accident. But this was different.
I felt my heart break a little, and then I knew that they were both fine but that something Valuable had broken.
And I knew what it was. And I began sobbing.
So were Abby and Ephraim, and big sister was lecturing and trying to clean at the same time and the other kids were all talking all at once.
And that’s when I heard the word “vase.” (Because at the time, I didn’t know they were in the formal living room tying each other to a pie safe…)
And inside me, I knew it was the one.
All of the vases I own (with the exception of two), are “Joy vases” as my family has termed them, because we received flowers when Joy passed away, and these vases held those flowers. Most of the time I keep most of them empty. They are there to remind us of her, and they do.
But there is one that does more than that, and that is Grandpa Beard’s vase. The one he gave me that summer day. He had picked and arranged the flowers himself, from his garden.
It had been such a hard day. When I heard the door knock, I was actually surprised that no one was immediately available to go answer it. Most of the time, there were people in the house, watching and protecting and praying for me. But, for some reason, everyone was otherwise engaged at the time of this knock.
And when I answered the door, and reached out to touch the vase, I felt Joy. And I felt a thrill of energy pulse through my being, because at that moment, that vase seemed to be more than just a piece of glass. It housed living flowers that somehow seemed to be a link between this world and the next.
When I reached out and took it from him, everything stopped for a moment. Like a freeze frame. The horses in the pasture. The deep, deep blue cloudless sky. The smell of the wildflowers on the breeze. The warmth of the white, clean pure mountain sunshine. The sound of birds and insects humming in the height of the glory of summer. Every moment that we spent with Joy that summer came flooding into my soul all at once in a way I can’t explain.
And I realized that time was irrelevant, and those memories could always be. And Joy was right there with me for that moment.
And every single time I have looked at that vase since that singular event, it all comes back to me in every detail.
It was the only thing that I allowed to be “super special” to me that the kids couldn’t touch.
Through my tears, I asked my 14 year old daughter,
“Please tell me we can put it back together?”
She wouldn’t look at me, and she just said,
“I don’t want to answer that.”
Later on, I touched the shards of glass, and it felt as if each one pierced my heart. I couldn’t feel it the same way.
It was like losing her a little all over again.
And it would have been easier had I not just thought that morning that the only way I could leave the valley where her grave sits silently guarded by the majesty of the Grand Teton, was that I had this vase.
And now I didn’t.
I would like to say that something miraculous happened just then, like my vase put itself back together, but it didn’t.
I guess sorrow is a sort of miracle, in its own way, though.
And as my husband stood by me, and tried to comfort me, even though he could not understand, I thought of how many sisters I have who could understand. I thought of my daughters, who wept with me, even though they have not borne children, but could sense and empathize with my pain because of their mother hearts.
And it eased the pain.
And that was another miracle.
I actually felt my heart being bound together through the love and suffering and constant care of angel mothers who surround us and of the countless beautiful mothers I have met, who, I knew, if they knew, would be grieving along with me.
And then my husband’s strong arms were around me and he lifted my chin and looked in my eyes and said,
“You’ve seen her at the hospital, and you’ve felt her so much more since you came home. Maybe you don’t need the vase anymore, and that is why it was allowed to happen.”
And I knew he was right, and peace covered the bindings of the spirit.
It still hurt, though. And I knew if I wrote about it, you would understand in a way that no man can, and that’s okay, because his job was to cover me in peace, and he did.
The real miracle happened a few days later, when I accidentally thought about my vase during a particularly trying moment, and cried again. I just happened to check my messages and there were the words of sweet understanding from a sister who lives across the sea on the other side of the world who had no idea about the vase:
Just thinking of you, love you, hope things are going well, so I thought I’d send over some aloha! 🙂 Good luck with everything. Thanks for all your writing lately. Everything is going to work out just right. ~A.
My sisters never fail me. And the best part of that miracle is that it happens quite frequently.
My broken vase isn’t here anymore, but, now, every time I think of its absence, I will remember the beautiful women and guardian angels and the constant, wonderful man in my life who bear me up when I am fallen and weighed down with grief–and those words from angel friends:
Everything is going to work out just right.