This Christmas post began as last Christmas passed by, it’s pieces stiching themselves together during Easter. And now as this Christmas receeds it is a story, I hope, to finally do justice to.
Last year my friend died. It was unexpected and very sad, as losing a friend always is. She slipped away shortly after Christmas while sleeping. The new year found her family and friends full of sadness over the loss, and the knowledge that her final years had been difficult and often sad. And though many of her last conversations and texts to me were optimistically looking forward to the new year, I knew she would have to work to right the ship of her life. Unfortunately, her time would run out before she could.
After her passing her husband and son, graciously offered her beautiful dining room set to my son and son-in-law. It was one of her pride and joys, exemplifying her sense of style and design. My son accepted the gift, and I was touched to think that when I would sit at my son’s holiday meals it would be at my dear friend’s table. I found the idea comforting.
But when we went to pick up the table and chairs we soon discovered a major problem. Under neath where the legs attached to the table top, it was broken. Snapped off and unusable. It was probably broken by the furniture movers during her final move. I was so sad by this turn of events, mostly because this last link to my friend was now gone.
“Could it be fixed?” her husband asked me when I reported what we had found. “Probably, but we do not have the skill set or the tools,” I told him. My son, knowing intuitively that it wasn’t about the table, held my hand while tears leaked from my eyes as I explained the problem. We locked the apartment and left.
Later I spoke by phone to her very best friend about the table. The table, I said, was the perfect sad metaphor for our friend’s last few years of life. Balanced and looking steady ready for a holiday meal. But really, underneath, broken and unable to be used. We both pondered the table and the loss of our friend.
A few days later,however, our friend’s husband again contacted me. He had a friend, a cabinet maker who had offered to repair the table. My son would indeed have holiday meals at the table of our friend.
You would think that this would end the story for me. But it didn’t. And although the table was in fact repaired and delivered to my son, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The broken table, my friend’s illness and sickness– brokenness.
Which bring me to Easter. It was Ash Wednesday and I was at church helping to serve communion. As I stood on the steps of in front of the communion table holding the chalice of wine I looked at the members as they took communion. One man grieving the loss of his brother, a woman, her head covered in a scarf after her recent cancer treatment, and the others, whose stories I didn’t know, all approached me to receive communion. And then it came to me, or perhaps I heard it. Clearly, in a voice not my own but in my own head. “We are all broken.”
It’s not the first time, that something had dawned on me with the surety of the word epiphany. But it was surprising none the less. I left church that night with much to think about.
And now It is Christmas once again. The post that has rolled around in my head since last Easter is finally ready to be released.
We are all broken. My friend’s passing last Christmas would not be the only loss for me this year, as Fall saw another friend pass away. You may have had to say farewell to loved ones too this year.
We are all broken.
Several months into Spring, my friend’s husband brought me a few more momentos of his wife. Some favorite cookbooks, and a small Christmas teapot.
He enclosed a note to explain the condition of the teapot. You see, it had been broken and repaired. A small chip on the top under the cover had been glued together “by the big clumsy oaf who broke it” , as described by his wife, he wrote.
We are all broken.
Perhaps we are all broken, by loss, by life, by illness, physical or emotional. But this year has also shown me how sometimes we can be mended. Perhaps it is another friend or a child who holds our hand, maybe it is taking part in a worship service, or reading the cookbook of an old friend that can help us move on. Or maybe it is someone with tools and the skill set we do not have who can help.
This year many of us have experienced brokeness. Maybe many of us have been the hand that helps as well.
I’m just say’n.
“Come and gather around the table
In the spirit of family and friends
And we’ll all join hands and remember this moment.
“Til the season comes ’round again.
May the new year be blessed
With good tidings
Til the next time I see you again
If we must say goodbye
Let the spirit go with you
And we’ll love and and we’ll laugh
In the time that we had
Til the season comes ’round again.”
‘Til the Season Comes Round Again
songwriters, John Jarvis, Randy Goodrum