I haven't been reading Bethany for long, but I'll be honest...well...I'll let her be honest for herself. This girl is honest. She's just raw and real about the things that push and pull for her affections and attentions. She doesn't mess around. Plus she's a great writer. She works in a communications department as a writer, and by night she's a writer, artist, and wife to her musician husband.
Bleary-eyed, I glanced at the clock in the corner of my computer screen. 11:14 p.m.
After a long day at the office, I had come home, popped a frozen pizza in the oven, and while it baked I started my other work, the work that I love. I wrote a blog post, edited submissions for the online magazine I've been working with in my free time, and sketched a draft for a custom Etsy order.
All in a good day's work, I suppose, but at 11:14 p.m., while my husband settled on the couch to discuss a not-so-rock-n-roll meeting with his band earlier that evening, I decided that no matter how tired I was, I wasn't done. I couldn't be done.
He kept talking as I walked to the kitchen.
"… you know?" he asked, perhaps hoping I was listening.
"Uh-huh," I replied passively.
The kitchen was a veritable science experiment, an unsightly mess of dishes that hadn't been touched in days. It was overwhelming. I couldn't do it all before midnight, but I could at least put away the left over pizza.
I'm too tired for this, I thought, stringing a length of saran wrap from the box to cover the green ceramic plate piled with pizza. But it's the responsible thing to do. This is what it means to be a grown up, I told myself.
I opened the fridge, balanced the plate on the top rack while I rearranged milk cartons behind it to make room, and as though in slow motion, the plate wobbled precariously and my eyes opened wide and I cursed loudly in dismay while it crashed to the floor in several large, tragic chunks and smaller shards scattered across the linoleum.
I turned away from the mess in frustrated disbelief, burst into a dramatic sob of tears.
I stood there, helpless and guilty, desperate for a rewind button. Every regretful moment of this scenario, this day, these last few weeks, this last year, my whole life lay broken on the floor before me like the plate. And I wanted to pick up that stupid plate and break it again, smash it again until all the big pieces were small, smaller, smallest, until they were dangerous ceramic blades that would cut the palms of my hands and soles of my feet, match this anger and desperation I felt inside.
Maybe if I were alone I would have really done that, like when you shout in the car at careless strangers, even though they can't hear you. Maybe not. I probably would have gone to find the broom myself… Eventually.
I wasn't alone, though, and my husband, kind and compassionate as he is, intervened. Quietly, gently, lovingly, he walked over the mess and began to pick up the pieces, and I stood there, trying to regain my composure.
When he was done he took me in his arms, and I was grateful and guilt-stricken, a sobbing mess.
I should have been listening to him tell me about his day, rather than trying to multi-task with kitchen duty.
I should not have cursed so loudly or cried over it. It's just a broken plate.
But standing there, sobbing into his sweatshirt, we both knew it wasn't about the broken plate at all, but about all those large, tragic, small and sharp moments that can't be undone and how it feels like everything is out of our control, out of our hands, out of our capability, even when we choose to be "grown-up."
"I know it's been four months, but it feels like it was yesterday," I cried.
"I know," he said. "I know. And it's okay to feel that way. It's okay to miss her. It's okay to cry."
So this is grace, I thought, as I listened to the rhythm of his breath against the back of my neck as he slept later that night.
Grace is what sweeps up the mess when you can't unbreak the plate.