The Glass Vase a.k.a Life

Life, in the words of one of my favourite authors (Neil Gaiman) is “a disease: sexually transmitted, and invariably fatal“. With the recent deaths of musicians and actors that we have all admired (maybe even idolised or fancied) for many years; from David Bowie to Lemmy, Alan Rickman and Glenn Frey, we feel we have lost part of ourselves as they wrote the soundtrack to our lives or a distant friend that never judged but was there in the background. As a result I have been thinking about the fragility of life, which to me is best thought of as like a glass vase held in a toddler’s hands, which could shatter in an instant.

No amount of preparation is able to prepare any of us for death only that that it will happen one day; nor can we protect ourselves or those we love from the impact of it. The shards of glass are like the bits of the person now gone; there are things we all may like or admire in a person, but equally there are bits only some people saw like the unique design that made them who they were or with the addition of flowers they became like an amazing support that many took for granted. At first we may try in vain to glue the shards back together before realising we cannot bring back what is gone, and the water on the floor increasing as the tears fall from our eyes like a river meeting the sea. Even when the shards are put in the bin, there is still part of them that will forever be part of us, as had a shared history (good and bad). Some may think getting a new vase will be the same, but it will not have the memories and identity that the one now gone had, and can never truly replace it.

However, it is important not to be scared of the vase shattering but remembering what the vase meaning is to us every day as can mean different things to different people, just as life can be different for us all. It can vary in the colours/shape/form because we all come in different ones, the only thing we share is being human and it is the diversity that is our true artistic self. It does not matter where the vase is, be it on a broken shelf in a run down house or a museum as created by some artisan of note, we all matter to someone. What that is can vary too; a vase may hold flowers that a loved one gave us to mark our birthday or Valentine’s Day, it also may have bought at an art gallery shop after enjoying an exhibition by a favourite artist or the colour fitted with the new décor of our living room. Finally, remember no vase is truly perfectly made, just as we all have flaws or hidden defects, perfection is a lie we tell each other as a way to convince ourselves as much as others. 

© Fi S. J. Brown

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Birthdays

Birthdays are curious events when we stop to think about them, a celebration of us being alive and the passing of time. Sometimes we stop to think of those who have been part of the journey with us, those that left lasting impressions (good and bad), and those that are no longer with us that we would give anything to have just one more meal with them.

Today marks my father’s 78th birthday, a leading paediatric neurologist across the world, achieving many things but alas I shall not be marking it with him. In my early years he was the parent I loved to be around, from visiting antique shops and art fairs, to museums and bookshops, although a very busy man he was the big arms of comfort that when needed were there.

Equally, he was the one that introduced me to politics and to open my mind to what was going on in a greater context than my own bit of the world. We’d regularly watch together current affairs shows like World in action, The Cook Report and Panorama, with documentaries by the great John Pilger and supplemented with the comedy of Monty Python and Blackadder

That all changed twenty five years ago, I felt abandoned by him as he left to live his new life and even asked him at the time “why are you leaving me with her“, the answer of “because I have to” still rings in my ears and sends my eyes gushing like a great waterfall. I would sit glue eyed not to the soap operas but the news broadcasts as felt his presence when not there.

In the years since he has let me down, often a conversation to explain a situation was needed; from the birth of my half sister (rather than discovering via a card dumped on my brother as he ran out the door) to after my near suicide attempt being told I could not stay with him (we’d been estranged for a decade and been in contact 18 months when it happened).

My father’s achievements in medicine and to the world we live are quite impressive but as a man I feel I do not know who he is. Regardless of what he did or did not do, he will always be my father and the 21st of May I’ll always pause to think about him. So happy birthday to him, thank you for the good memories and hope he continues to be happy in his senior years.

© Fi S. J. Brown