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
In my hands lies the shattered remains of a vase,
Each piece pierced my skin to reveal a red blaze.
My tears fall to try put the fire but it is now a river,
Which sends my legs and arms into a deep shiver.
The fragments I cradle like a sick child needing aid,
As I fall to my knees all around me begins to fade.
Like a tree in the forest nobody hears the sound,
Of having a breakdown when lost but not found.
I wake with no sign of the vase pieces to be seen,
No scars or cuts showed where they’d once been.
Starting to rock in the position of a newborn baby,
I cry out for help from the walls in a muted plea.
I feel like a rock that has fallen down from a cliff,
Pushed over the edge after yet another miff.
As I move I realise I am the vase that shattered,
I wish I’d not been born a of glass but like a bird.
How do you mend a broken glass I ask of myself,
I have nothing left to read on the old bookshelf.
Stumbling to my feet I decide maybe once more,
The phoenix within me then rises so I can soar.
I laugh as I feel the wings that I never knew I had,
I will cope now with whatever in life makes me sad.
Three words I write on my left wrist to remember,
“Believe it again” they say and be my life’s anchor.
© Fi S. J. Brown